KALAMAZOO, Mich. » Michigan State looked like it needed a tuneup before playing Oregon.
Madre London ran for two touchdowns in the first several minutes of his college career to help the fifth-ranked Spartans build a big lead they needed to hold off Western Michigan for a 37-24 victory Friday night.
The Spartans (1-0) led 27-7 in the second quarter and were up by 24 points in the third. The Broncos (0-1) pulled within 10 points early in the fourth by putting together two long TD drives.
After giving up a field goal and having a three-and-out possession, Western Michigan drove to the Michigan State 7 with a chance to make the final minutes dramatic. Freshman cornerback Vayante Copeland, though, ended the suspense with an interception in the end zone.
The Spartans set a school record by scoring 30-plus points for the ninth straight game. They surpassed the 30-point mark in eight consecutive games, bridging the 1978 and 1979 seasons.
Michigan State was relatively shaky when Connor Cook was passing, and when it was defending the pass.
Cook was 15 of 31 for 256 yards with two TDs. He had plenty of time to throw when he dropped back for most of his passes, but many of his passes were off target. Cook did throw a 9-yard TD pass to Josiah Price late in the first quarter and a 21-yarder to DeAnthony Arnett early in the third to give the Spartans a 34-10 lead.
Michigan State’s Aaron Burbridge had four receptions for 117 yards. The Spartan had a trio of running backs, including London, combine to run for 190 yards on 35 carries.
Zach Terrell was 33 of 50 for 365 yards with two TDs, late in the third and early in the fourth to turn a lopsided game into a contested one. Terrell also threw two interceptions.
Western Michigan receivers were able to separate from the Spartans’ secondary to make catches in space. Daniel Braverman had 13 receptions for 109 yards and Corey Davis caught 10 passes for 154 yards, including a 17-yard TD late in the third quarter. The Broncos, though, could not strike a balance offensively in part because Jarvion Franklin ran for just 23 yards on eight carries before a hard hit sent him to the sideline.
Western Michigan made some plays early and late, but the Mid-American Conference program was ultimately overmatched by a Big Ten power.
Darius Phillips scored a game-tying, 100-yard kickoff return midway through the first quarter for the Broncos. Phillips took the opening kickoff to the Michigan State 30 to set his team up with an opportunity to score first, but Andrew Haldeman missed a 41-yard field goal.
When the Broncos were making a comeback in the second half, no one at Waldo Stadium seemed more fired up than their 34-year-old coach. P.J. Fleck, the youngest coach in major college football, looked like a youngster when he landed a flying chest bump on one of his players when it was 34-24 with 11:09 left after Terrell connected with Jeremiah Mullinax on a 29-yard touchdown.