EAST LANSING, Mich. — B.J. Cunningham caught nine passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, moving into a tie for first on Michigan State’s career receptions list in the No. 17 Spartans’ 28-6 victory over Youngstown State Friday night.
Kirk Cousins threw for 222 yards for Michigan State, which tied for the Big Ten title last season but wasn’t especially dominant against the Penguins of the Football Championship Subdivision. The Spartans led 14-6 in the third quarter when Cousins threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Cunningham, who held on despite tight coverage in the back of the end zone.
Le’Veon Bell added his second three-yard touchdown run of the game to make it 28-6 in the fourth.
Cunningham has 148 receptions, equaling Matt Trannon’s mark.
Cousins completed 18-of-22 passes, and Edwin Baker ran for 91 yards for Michigan State. Youngstown State’s Kurt Hess threw for 126 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Michigan State took a big step forward last season, winning 11 games and sharing the conference crown with Wisconsin and Ohio State, but the Spartans ended on a sour note, losing 49-7 to Alabama in the Capital One Bowl.
They looked out of sorts at times last night, committing seven first-half penalties. Michigan State cut down on the infractions in the second half, but there were still some frustrating moments. Dan Conroy missed a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter with a horrific shank, kicking the ball low and way to the left.
But the Spartans got the ball back quickly on an interception by Isaiah Lewis, which set up Bell’s second touchdown.
Michigan State began the game on a heartwarming note when offensive lineman Arthur Ray, Jr., took the field, four years after being treated for cancer in his left leg. Ray underwent chemotherapy shortly after signing with the Spartans in 2007, and a subsequent infection postponed his comeback until now.
Coach Mark Dantonio indicated earlier this week that Ray wasn’t able to practice much because of the stress on his leg, but he was in at left guard for Michigan State’s first offensive play of the season. The Spartans called a pass, Ray blocked effectively, then he came out of the game.
BAYLOR 50, NO. 14 TCU 48
WACO, Texas — Aaron Jones kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:04 left, and Baylor averted a monumental collapse to pull out a season-opening victory over TCU.
TCU, which had won an FBS-best 25 consecutive regular-season games, overcame a 47-23 deficit in the fourth quarter when new starting quarterback Casey Pachall threw three touchdowns before a fumble by Bears quarterback Robert Griffin set up a go-ahead 27-yard field goal by Ross Evans.
But Baylor, which hadn’t beaten a ranked team since 2004, then went 60 yards in 11 plays to set up Jones.