No. 2 Spartans beat CMU 30-10, but injuries mounting
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) Shilique Calhoun helped Michigan State disrupt Central Michigan's offense - and its kicking game, too.
The star defensive lineman had 2 1/2 sacks and blocked a field goal Saturday, and the second-ranked Spartans beat Central Michigan 30-10. It was an outstanding performance from Calhoun on a day the rest of his team looked sluggish.
''Sort of took the game over a little bit there,'' coach Mark Dantonio said.
Gerald Holmes ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns for Michigan State. The Spartans (4-0) have scored at least 30 points in a school-record 12 consecutive games, but they did not look particularly good offensively for most of this one. Connor Cook threw for only 143 yards, and the Chippewas (1-3) kept their upset bid very much alive until the final period.
The Spartans, who have already lost linebacker Ed Davis and cornerback Vayante Copeland to season-ending injuries, lost standout tackle Jack Conklin to an apparent knee injury, although it's not clear how serious that is. Dantonio wouldn't address the injury after the game.
It was 17-10 in the third quarter and the Chippewas had the ball when the Spartans held on fourth-and-2 from the Michigan State 37. Cooper Rush threw incomplete under pressure from Calhoun and linebacker Riley Bullough.
That was as close as Central Michigan came to tying it. The Spartans added touchdown runs of 3 and 6 yards by Holmes in the final 8:37.
''They kicked a field goal, making it 17-10,'' Dantonio said. ''I said, `OK, here we go. Here we go. It's going to get real interesting now.' But we rallied up and we played through it.''
Cook improved to 27-3 as a starter, tying Kirk Cousins' school record of 27 victories.
The injuries are beginning to mount for Michigan State. In addition to Conklin's issue, defensive back RJ Williamson was shaken up a couple times in the second half, and tight end Josiah Price was using crutches to support himself on the sideline toward the end of the game.
The Spartans took the field with their highest AP Top 25 ranking since 1966, but Central Michigan drove to the Michigan State 23 before settling for a field goal try on fourth-and-3. After a false start pushed the kick back, Demetrius Cooper blocked it.
The Spartans then drove 72 yards in six plays and took a 7-0 lead on Madre London's 6-yard touchdown run, but the Chippewas answered with another time-consuming drive, reaching the Michigan State 21 before stalling. Central Michigan was set to go for it on fourth-and-1, but another false start forced Brian Eavey to try another field goal. Calhoun blocked this one.
''We understood that they came down, they drove the ball down, but we stopped them and put them in field goal range,'' Calhoun said. ''But now it's time to shut that out also. ... I feel like all 11 guys on that field were trying to block that field goal - both of those.''
The Spartans led 17-0 after Cook's 5-yard scoring pass to Price in the second quarter, but the Chippewas steadied themselves with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass from Rush to Anthony Rice with 8 seconds left in the half.
''Michigan State is an excellent football team. They deserve to be ranked where they're at,'' CMU coach John Bonamego said. ''I think we've got a good young team. We're getting better all the time. We've got to correct some mistakes and I think we're going to be a very tough team when we get into league play (in the Mid-American Conference) starting next week.''
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org