Without Dantonio, Michigan State rolls over Northern Colorado
East Lansing, MI (Sports Network) - Kirk Cousins threw for 290 yards with a pair of touchdowns and Le'Veon Bell ran for three scores, as 25th-ranked Michigan State rolled to a 45-7 victory over Northern Colorado a week after head coach Mark Dantonio suffered a mild heart attack.
Dantonio was hospitalized just hours after Michigan State's thrilling overtime win last Saturday against Notre Dame and underwent a cardiac catheterization procedure, in which a small, metallic stent is used to open a blocked blood vessel leading to the heart.
The coach was released from the hospital on Tuesday and was not on the sideline for the Spartans (4-0), but the team wore stickers with the letter 'D' on the backs of their helmets. His status will be evaluated during the week as Michigan State begins to prepare for next Saturday's Big Ten opener against 11th-ranked Wisconsin.
With offensive coordinator Don Treadwell guiding the team, the Spartans scored early and often on the way to a 35-0 halftime lead.
"Our hats off to our boss, coach Mark Dantonio," said Treadwell. "We are hoping that he was able to watch the game, in I don't know if I can use the word peace or not...to be able to not get too on edge from start to finish as we played the game that we did today. We are certainly pleased that our young men were able to go into this game and be focused and execute early on."
Cousins completed 16-of-20 passes and Bell ran for 92 yards on just 11 carries in the victory. Edwin Baker added a rushing score for Michigan State, which accumulated 532 offensive yards and held Northern Colorado to 266.
Dylan Orms was intercepted three times for Northern Colorado (2-2) of the FCS and connected on just 6-of-22 passes for 93 yards. Backup Seth Lobato threw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter for the Bears' lone score.
Michigan State's defense came up with the first big play, as Greg Jones picked off Orms and returned the interception 34 yards to the Northern Colorado five. Baker found the end zone on the next play for a quick 7-0 lead.
The Spartans punted after their next series, but took their third offensive possession 49 yards for another score. Cousins had a 28-yard touchdown pass negated by a penalty, but he completed a 35-yard pass to Bell on the next play to set up the running back's eight-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead with just over 3 1/2 minutes left in the opening quarter.
Michigan State fumbled the ball away inside Northern Colorado territory on the second play of the second quarter with Andrew Maxwell guiding the offense, but Cousins was back on the next series and capped a 63-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Brian Linthicum to make it 21-0.
Jones picked off another Orms pass soon after to stop Northern Colorado's first trip to Michigan State's side of the field and Cousins followed by directing a six-play, 80-yard drive for another Spartan touchdown. A 55-yard strike to Mark Dell set up a first down at the Northern Colorado five and Bell took it into the end zone from the one just two plays later.
The Spartans got the ball again with just 2:24 left in the half and Cousins quickly went to work. He hit Keith Nichol for 34 yards on the first play and finished the six-play, 78-yard march with a 16-yard scoring strike to Larry Caper for a 35-0 lead just 57 seconds before intermission.
Cousins completed 12-of-15 passes for 235 yards during the opening 30 minutes, which Michigan State dominated. The Spartans gained 387 yards and held the Bears to just 141.
Northern Colorado drove to the Michigan State 20 early in the third quarter, but Orms was picked off by Trenton Robinson and the Spartans marched 87 yards the other way for another score. Bell capped the seven-play set with a 15-yard touchdown run.
The Bears then took advantage of a kickoff out of bounds and found the end zone when Lobato and Chris Morris hooked up for a 32-yard touchdown just over a minute into the fourth quarter.
Maxwell led the Spartans to a Dan Conroy 43-yard field goal with 1:29 left for the final margin.
Baker finished with 59 yards rushing and the Spartans rolled up 201 yards on the ground, eclipsing the 200-yard plateau for the fourth time in as many games this season...Andre Harris led Northern Colorado's rushing attack with 63 yards on 14 carries...Michigan State was penalized 11 times for 121 yards...The Spartans will be gunning for their first 5-0 start since 1999 when they won their first six games with Nick Saban as head coach.
09/25 20:01:20 ET
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