Sep 24, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA;  Minnesota Golden Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim (24) runs for a first down in the second quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota moves to 4-0 with 34-7 road rout over Michigan State

Tanner Morgan went 23-of-26 passing for 268 yards and three touchdown to lead Minnesota to a 34-7 road win at Michigan State on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.

Mohamed Ibrahim rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries for Minnesota (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten), which outgained Michigan State, 508-240.

The Golden Gophers also had an enormous 42:30 of possession time, outrushed Michigan State (2-2, 0-1), 240-38, and forced three Michigan State turnovers.

Payton Thorne went 17-of-24 passing for 132 yards and two interceptions for Michigan State.

Minnesota dominated the first quarter, first taking a 7-0 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run by Ibrahim on the first drive of the game, which finished off a 10-play, 75-yard drive.

The Golden Gophers then marched 77 yards in nine plays and took a 14-0 lead with 2:57 remaining in the first on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Daniel Jackson.

At the end of the first quarter, Minnesota had 169 yards and 14 first downs to 1 yard and no first downs for Michigan State.

Minnesota again drove the field and took a 17-0 lead with 10:14 left in the second quarter on a 26-yard field goal by Matthew Trickett.

On the first possession of the second half, Michigan State’s offense drove all the way down to the Minnesota 6-yard line, but on a first-down carry Thorne fumbled.

The ball was recovered by Minnesota’s Justin Walley and returned to the Minnesota 10.

The Golden Gophers then took the ball, drove 90 yards and took a 24-0 lead with 3:26 remaining in the third on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Nick Kallerup.

Following an interception, Minnesota took a 31-0 lead with 14:08 remaining in the game on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Jackson.

Trickett made it 34-0 Minnesota on a 22-yard field goal with 1:48 remaining.

Michigan State broke up the shutout on a 27-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Noah Kim to Germie Bernard with 17 seconds remaining.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; East Lansing, Michigan, USA;   Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Keon Coleman (0) can not hold onto the ball after being hit by Akron Zips cornerback Jalen Hooks (29). Mandatory Credit: Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Michigan State led by defense to win over Akron

Jalen Berger gained 107 yards on 17 carries and scored three touchdowns and No. 14 Michigan State took advantage of four Akron fumbles in a 52-0 romp on Saturday.

Jarek Broussard rushed for 81 yards on 15 carries and scored twice for the Spartans (2-0). Payton Thorne completed 18-of-29 passes for 212 yards and was picked off twice.

Akron quarterback DJ Irons, who completed 9-of-13 passes for 123 yards, was carted off during the first half. The Zips dropped to 1-1.

Michigan State led 24-0 at halftime.

The Spartans scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. Broussard plunged up the middle on a 1-yard run to cap their first scoring drive, which was set up by a Zips fumble. Cal Haladay returned the giveaway 21 yards.

Berger’s 18-yard run, plus an Akron facemask penalty, put Michigan State inside the Akron 20.

Another Zips fumble, which was forced by Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Jacoby Windmon, allowed the Spartans to start their next scoring drive on Akron’s 45. Berger powered up the middle for the final yard.

Windmon recovered a fumble in the second quarter, which led to the Spartans’ third scoring drive. This one lasted eight plays and 56 yards and included a 20-yard pass from Thorne to Jayden Reed. It was completed by another 1-yard Berger run.

Windmon finished with three forced fumbles.

Reed had an 86-punt return for a touchdown in the final minute of the half wiped out by a holding call. Jack Stone connected on a 43-yard field goal in the final second.

Haladay sacked Jeff Undercluffer and forced a fumble early in the third, giving Michigan State the ball on Akron’s 20. Two plays later, Noah Kim connected with Tre Mosley on a 16-yard scoring pass for a 31-0 advantage.

Broussard scored his second touchdown on a 2-yard plunge midway through the third. Berger also scored from two yards out later in the quarter to make it 45-0.

Elijah Collins scored on a 1-yard run before the quarter expired.

— Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) and Syracuse Orange defensive back Eric Coley (34) in the third quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Stars to sit as No. 10 Michigan State meets No. 12 Pitt in Peach Bowl

The Peach Bowl had a nice matchup, complete with marquee offensive stars, when it announced that No. 10 Michigan State would be facing No. 12 Pittsburgh on Dec. 30.

But then the teams’ star players opted out of the game to guard against injury and to prepare for the NFL draft.

Michigan State (10-2) won’t have premier running back Kenneth Walker III, recipient of the Doak Walker and Walter Camp Player of the Year awards.

Pittsburgh (11-2) will be without Kenny Pickett, potentially the top quarterback prospect in the draft.

Their now-former college teams will still face each other Thursday night at Atlanta.

Walker finished the regular season with 1,636 rushing yards (136.3 yards per game), ranking second in the country.

“He always gave us everything he had,” coach Mel Tucker said. “He’s a tremendous player and a difference maker and that’s reflected in the awards he did receive. … If it’s not in their best interests to play, I’m going to support them.”

Pickett exploded onto the national scene in his senior season, throwing for 4,319 yards and 42 touchdowns while leading the Panthers to the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. He finished third in Heisman Trophy voting, three spots above Walker.

“I can’t help it if guys end up opting out,” Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said. “Everybody’s got to make a decision on their own, but bowl games are outstanding for the team, the coaches and the families. It’s part of the game everybody should enjoy.”

The Spartans likely will replace Walker with a combination of running backs, including Jordon Simmons and Elijah Collins.

They also have a solid passing attack behind quarterback Payton Thorne, whose 24 touchdown passes are one shy of the school’s single-season record (set by Kirk Cousins in 2011). Wide receiver Jayden Reed caught eight of those scoring passes, while his 53 receptions averaged 17.9 yards per catch.

Tucker might also get some freshmen and sophomores ready for next season.

“There’s going to be opportunities to give more reps to some younger players,” he said. “Some guys who maybe haven’t played as much, they’ll show up in the game.”

Tucker was rewarded with a 10-year, $95-million extension after his second season at Michigan State. After a 2-5 mark in the pandemic-wracked 2020 campaign, the Spartans won their first eight games of 2021, capped by a triumph over archrival and eventual Big Ten-champion Michigan.

Losses to Purdue (40-29) and Ohio State (56-7) prevented them from reaching the Big Ten Championship Game but they ended the season with a 30-27 victory over Penn State.

“People are taking note of what we’re doing here at East Lansing,” Tucker said. “The tide is turning and we’re moving in the right direction.”

Pittsburgh’s losses came against Miami and nonconference opponent Western Michigan. The Panthers finished strong, winning their last five games, including a 45-21 romp past Wake Forest in the ACC Championship Game.

Nick Patti will get the start at quarterback in place on Pickett.

“Nick is a guy that this entire room trusts,” Narduzzi said. “He’s a good football player. He can throw the ball. … We’re excited to see what Nick (can do). It’s his time in this game to show everybody who he is.”

Patti attempted only 14 passes this season but completed 12 of them for 140 yards.

He’ll have Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison as a prime target. The sophomore wideout caught 93 passes for 1,479 yards and a national-best 17 TDs.

One common opponent is Miami: Michigan State handled the Hurricanes in Miami on Sept. 18, 38-17; the Panthers lost at home against Miami, 38-34, on Oct. 30.

–Field Level Media

Michigan State Spartans running back Kenneth Walker III (9) runs by Maryland Terrapins defensive back Jakorian Bennett (2) during second half action Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021 at Spartan Stadium.

Msu Mary

Stakes high when No. 4 Ohio State faces No. 7 Michigan State

The stakes will be as high as they can be when No. 7 Michigan State battles No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

The loser will have two losses and almost certainly will be eliminated from consideration for the four-team College Football Playoff.

“It’s a huge challenge ahead of us,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “We’ve got everything on the line here. This is what it’s all about. … This is why you come to Ohio State.”

The winner will be in control to represent the East Division in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 4.

Ohio State (9-1, 7-0 Big Ten) is coming off its most efficient offensive performance of the season, scoring touchdowns on its first six possessions in a 59-31 win against Purdue.

The Spartans (9-1, 6-1) use the legs of Kenneth Walker III, who leads the nation in yards (1,473) and rushing touchdowns (17), and the arm of quarterback Payton Thorne, who is second in the conference to Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud with 21 touchdown passes.

While Ohio State is first nationally at 46.3 points per game and the Spartans 26th (34.6), Michigan State second-year coach Mel Tucker is more of a defense-first coach, as he graphically explained Monday.

“I’m not in the shootout business,” Tucker said. “If it ends up being that, then it’s that. But that’s not the goal. … A shootout to me, when I hear something like that, it makes me want to vomit.”

Tucker’s team has been one of the surprises not only in the conference but in all of college football.

The Spartans were 2-5 in the abbreviated 2020 season, including a 52-12 home loss to the Buckeyes. Aided by an abundance of transfers, the turnaround has been quick for Tucker.

“We’ve put ourselves in a position to have this game really mean something. And that’s a good thing,” Thorne said. “Coach Tucker talked last year and he talked in the offseason that he’s not interested in a four-year plan and he’s not interested in getting his recruits here like people talk about. He’s interested in winning now. He said that last year, and he meant it.”

Day said the resurgence of Michigan State exemplifies how tough the conference is to successfully navigate.

“This has been quite a year for the Big Ten,” he said. “If you look at the second half, there have been some unbelievable games. There are no weeks off.”

The weather will be typically cold in Big Ten country this time of the year. The Buckeyes got a taste of it last week when the temperature was a blustery 37 degrees.

The conditions didn’t bother Stroud, the Inland, Calif., native who threw five touchdown passes vs. the Boilermakers to give him 30 for the season.

“I asked him before the game, ‘Can a Cali kid throw the ball in 40-degree weather with 10-mile-an-hour winds?’” Day said Tuesday. “And he said, ‘Yeah, no problem, Coach.’ He just shrugged it right off. It’s always good to see. You never know until you see it, but there will be worse weather coming.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Payton Thorne (10) drops back to throw the ball during the first quarter against the Maryland Terrapins at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Michigan St. overpowers Maryland, 40-21

Payton Thorne tossed four touchdown passes, Heisman Trophy candidate Kenneth Walker III gained 143 rushing yards with two touchdowns and No. 7 Michigan State posted a 40-21 win over visiting Maryland on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich.

The Spartans rebounded from their first loss of the season last week at Purdue by racking up 481 yards of total offense, outpacing Maryland’s own inconsistent efforts on offense.

Thorne completed 22 of 31 passes for 287 yards with one interception. Jayden Reed caught eight balls for 114 yards and two scores for Michigan State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten).

Taulia Tagovailoa went 29-for-48 passing for 350 yards, two touchdowns and one pick for Maryland (5-5, 2-5). Rakim Jarrett hauled in 10 passes for 105 yards and Chigoziem Okonkwo caught eight for 112 and two touchdowns.

Michigan State completed passing touchdowns on two of its first three drives, including a flea-flicker on the opening drive that set up a 52-yard score to Montorie Foster. It was 13-0 after a missed PAT on the second touchdown.

Maryland got on the board with three seconds remaining in the first quarter. Tagovailoa took a designed run 45 yards down the left sideline to the Spartans’ 4, and Peny Boone ran it in on the next play.

Thorne used play-action on a third-and-goal from the 2 for a touchdown pass to Connor Heyward. Walker finally got his turn on a 1-yard rushing score on the next Michigan State possession, and at 27-7 the game threatened to turn into a blowout.

But Tagovailoa orchestrated a pitch-perfect two-minute drill with completions of 5, 23 and 20 yards before he found Okonkwo for a 32-yard score, making it 27-14 by halftime.

The Terrapins started the second half with the ball and drove downfield again, but Noah Harvey intercepted Tagovailoa at Michigan State’s 1-yard line. The Spartans came back with another quick drive that ended in Thorne finding Reed for a 3-yard TD toss.

Just three plays later, Okonkwo struck again for Maryland. The tight end caught a screen pass and took it down the right sideline 32 yards, hurdling two diving tacklers on his way to making it 34-21.

Maryland’s next two drives came up short — first a third-down intentional grounding call leading to a missed field goal try, then a turnover on downs inside the Spartans’ 25.

Walker scored again from 3 yards out with 10:34 left to play to conclude the scoring.

The Terrapins committed 13 penalties for 93 yards.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; West Lafayette, Indiana, USA; Purdue Boilermakers wide receiver Jackson Anthrop (33) runs the ball while Michigan State Spartans linebacker Quavaris Crouch (6) defends in the first half at Ross-Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Aidan O’Connell’s huge day lifts Purdue to upset over No. 3 Michigan State

Aidan O’Connell passed for 536 yards and three touchdowns and Purdue defeated a top-five team for the second time this season, downing previously unbeaten and No. 3 ranked Michigan State 40-29 at West Lafayette, Ind. on Saturday.

The Boilermakers (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) defeated then No. 2 Iowa last month.

O’Connell completed 40 of 54 passes, with David Bell hauling in 11 passes for 217 yards.

Payton Thorne completed 20-of-30 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns for the Spartans (8-1, 5-1). Tre Mosley caught two touchdown passes and Kenneth Walker III rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries.

The Boilermakers led 21-14 at halftime.

O’Connell completed three passes of 13 or more yards on Purdue’s first drive. He found Bell from five yards out to put his team on top.

Michigan State tied it on its next possession, with Thorne hooking up with Mosley on a 26-yard score. Connor Heyward had a 35-yard reception during that drive.

The Boilermakers regained the lead early in the second quarter as O’Connell floated an 8-yard touchdown pass to Broc Thompson. Bell had a 42-yard reception to set up the score.

Jackson Anthrop weaved through traffic on a 39-yard screen pass from O’Connell to give Purdue a 21-7 lead with 4:50 left in the half.

Walker’s 14-yard run allowed the Spartans to cut their deficit in half before the break. That finished off an 11-play, 69-yard drive.

The Spartans tied it early in the third on Thorne’s 32-yard run, three plays after a Boilermakers fumble.

Purdue soon retook the lead on King Doerue’s 1-yard run, a drive aided by two Spartans penalties.

Bell’s 50-yard catch set up Mitchell Fineran’s 29-yard field goal, which gave Purdue a 31-21 lead.

Fineran also made a 24-yarder early in the fourth. The Boilermakers then drove down the field after Thorne was intercepted on fourth down deep in Purdue territory. Bell’s 53-yard catch set up Fineran’s 23-yard field goal.

Mosley’s 11-yard touchdown catch and a two-point conversion with 5:03 left made it 37-29.

Fineran’s 22-yard field goal in the final minute clinched the upset.

–Field Level Media