Michigan State probably didn’t convince anyone of their ability to win the Big Ten on Friday, but they probably didn’t hurt it either.
Youngstown State hung around in the first half, but MSU proved too much for the FCS-division Penguins as the No. 17 Spartans pulled away for a 28-6 win at Spartan Stadium.
Le’Veon Bell ran for two touchdowns and Larry Caper added one of his own for MSU (1-0), who struggled with Youngstown in the first half. Edwin Baker led the rushing attack with 93 yards on 15 carries.
Wide receiver B.J. Cunningham and quarterback Kirk Cousins were a potent tandem all night long for the Spartans’ air attack. Cunningham finished with nine catches for 129 yards and a score, while Cousins completed 18-of-22 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown.
After Caper’s run opened the scoring in the second quarter, YSU quarterback Kurt Hess led the Penguins on a 62-yard drive that culminated with a 10 yard touchdown toss to Jelani Berassa. However, the Spartans kept the lead after David Brown’s extra point was blocked.
Youngstown never threatened again.
Bell extended the lead on the very next drive, highlighted by a 55-yard pass by Cousins to Cunningham on the very first play. Bell capped the drive with his touchdown three plays later to give MSU a slim 14-6 lead at the half.
Cunningham and Cousins hooked up again in the third quarter on an 18-yard strike that increased the lead to 21-6.
Bell added a second touchdown with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter that put the game essentially out of reach.
Cousins, MSU: 18/22, 221 yards, touchdown
Hess, YSU: 18/38, 135 yards, touchdown, interception
Baker, MSU: 15 carries, 93 yards
Bell, MSU: 9 carries, 40 yards, touchdown
Jamaine Cook, YSU: 17 carries, 76 yards
Cunningham, MSU: 9 catches 129 yards, touchdown
Christian Bryan, YSU: 6 catches, 45 yards