Michigan State hosts Purdue in Big Ten opener
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Second-ranked Michigan State begins its quest to win the Big Ten title when it hosts struggling Purdue on Saturday afternoon. The Spartans extended their streak of scoring 30 or more points to a team-record 12 games while sweeping through their non-conference schedule and must avoid peaking ahead to road tilts against Rutgers and Michigan on the horizon.
Quarterback Connor Cook looks to win his 28th career game as a starter for Michigan State, which would pass Kirk Cousins for the school record, and needs 91 yards passing to reach 7,000. The Spartans must put up points and get a stout performance from their defense against the Boilermakers, who are averaging more than 30 points per game. Freshman quarterback David Blough had 340 yards passing in his first career start last week in Purdue's 35-28 loss to Bowling Green, but the Boilermakers need better from their defense.
"We have a good locker room with a ton of leaders," Purdue linebacker Ja'Whaun Bentley told reporters. "We know we are not mentally out of it. We are just having execution problems."
TV: Noon ET, ESPN2. LINE: Michigan State -21.5
ABOUT PURDUE (1-3): Blough, the 10th different starter at quarterback for the Boilermakers since 2008, completed 29 of his 39 passes last week after brief stints the previous two games. DeAngelo Yancey (13 catches, 250 yards, two TDs) and Danny Anthrop (16, 124, one) give him two experienced and productive receivers while D.J. Knox and Markell Jones have combined for 499 yards rushing. Although they have struggled to keep teams out of the end zone, the Boilermakers have accumulated 11 sacks with Antoine Miles recording four.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (4-0): Injuries are beginning to test the Spartans depth with stand-out left tackle Jack Conklin (knee) doubtful after he was injured in the 30-10 win over Central Michigan last week. Cook, who has nine touchdown passes and one interception, has often looked to Aaron Burbridge (24 catches, 405 yards, four scores) first while tight end Josiah Price (ankle, probable) also owns four TDs. Madre London (275 yards, three scores), LJ Scott (230, two) and Gerald Holmes (three TDs) continue to provide ground support.
1. Michigan State senior DE Shilique Calhoun has 21 career sacks, sixth all time in school history and four away from tying for second.
2. Bentley boasts 40 tackles – six for loss – to lead a Purdue defense that has averaged 42.3 points against in three defeats.
3. The Spartans have won the last six meetings between the two rivals, including a 45-31 triumph last season.
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