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September 8, 2012
Spartans stifle CMU, 41-7
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- The setting seemed a little strange but Michigan State's defense remained the same -- fast, nasty and stingy.
Making the program's first appearance at Central Michigan, the 11th-ranked Spartans silenced the overmatched Chippewas 41-7 before a record crowd of 35,127 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell completed 20 of 31 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns while tailback Le'Veon Bell gained 70 yards and scored twice for the Spartans (2-0). Bell had 210 rushing yards in MSU's opener.
"We talked a lot about coming away and getting our first road win, going up and playing to the best of our abilities, eliminating some mistakes we had last week," said Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. "We ran the ball okay but threw the ball, I thought, pretty effectively.
"At the end of the first half with that two-minute situation with the big pick and getting in and then getting the field goal, it went from 14-0 to 24-0. I think that was the pendulum that I think swung our way. And then the first drive that we had in the second half put it to 31."
Michigan State lost the shutout on CMU cornerback Jason Wilson's 55-yard interception return against backup quarterback Connor Cook with 1:39 remaining.
"Defensively, we played very, very well. We had a shutout until the last couple of plays, which is a little frustrating," Dantonio said. "I thought we played pretty well (on defense) and came away with some turnovers. We hit the quarterback, which we needed to do.Guys got a lot of reps.
"There is no substitution for experience in a game. That's what impressed me in the big scheme of things. We played a lot of players. We played 65 of the 70 guys that traveled here."
Seven different wide receivers made receptions this week, after MSU stayed largely with tight end Dion Sims as the primary target last week in a 17-13 victory over Boise State.
"We went into the game saying we had to get our wide outs going a little bit more than we did last week," Dantonio said. "I thought we did that."
Central Michigan quarterback Ryan Radcliff completed 17 of 38 passes for 173 yards but was picked off twice. The Chippewas (1-1), who had 324 rushing yards in their opener against Southeast Missouri State, were held to 72 yards on the ground.
The Spartans also held Boise State without an offensive touchdown in their opener. Michigan State, which defeated the Chippewas 45-7 in East Lansing last season, scored twice in the final minute of the first half to take a 24-0 halftime lead.
Nick Hill's 31-yard punt return allowed the Spartans to start their second possession on Central Michigan's 32. Bell carried six times on the short nine-play drive for 20 yards, including a 1-yard scoring plunge.
Bell scored his fourth touchdown of the season with a 7-yard run on the first play of the second quarter. That capped a 10-play, 87-yard drive which included a 29-yard pass from Maxwell to Keith Mumphrey and gave Michigan State a 14-0 lead.
Late in the half, the Chippewas drove from their own 7 to the Spartans' 27 but turned the ball over on downs. Maxwell then led the Spartans on a 73-yard scoring drive, finishing it off with a 20-yard pass to tight end Sims 57 seconds before halftime.
After Radcliff threw his second interception, the Spartans' Dan Conroy kicked a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
Maxwell connected with a wide-open Bennie Fowler on a 7-yard touchdown pass on the Spartans' first possession after halftime. Maxwell set up the touchdown by pump-faking and hitting DeAnthony Arnett on a 48-yard pass.
NOTES: Central Michigan coach Dan Enos was the Spartans' starting quarterback for two seasons (1989-90) and their running backs coach under Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio for three seasons (2007-09). ... The Spartans lead the series 6-3. ... The previous attendance record at Kelly/Shorts Stadium was 30,302 on Oct. 18, 2008, when CMU defeated Western Michigan 38-28. ... Michigan State, which plays Notre Dame in East Lansing Saturday night, has a 41-7-2 record against Mid-American Conference opponents. ... Maxwell's touchdown pass late in the first half was the second of his career. ... Fowler led the MSU receiving corps with eight catches for 99 yards.