Michigan State has an undefeated record and a top-10 ranking, but their status as a College Football Playoff contender has taken a bit of a hit of late, as the Spartans haven't exactly scored any style points with narrow wins over Purdue, Rutgers and Michigan in recent weeks.
Well, Saturday, Mark Dantonio's team finally got the blowout win that's evaded it since the start of Big Ten play, dumping 24 fourth-quarter points on Indiana to grab a 52-26 win.
Connor Cook had a monster afternoon, completing 30 passes for 398 yards and four touchdowns as the Spartans racked up 540 total yards against a typically woeful Hoosier defense.
It was a back-and-forth game for three quarters, with only a pair of missed extra points by Indiana kicker Griffin Oakes allowing Michigan State to hold a 28-26 lead with just one quarter to play. Cook threw touchdown passes to R.J. Shelton, Aaron Burbridge and Josiah Price, while Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld threw a trio of touchdown passes and running back Jordan Howard had a touchdown run in his first game back after an injury-induced layoff.
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But after Oakes missed a potential go-ahead field goal late in the third quarter and Michael Geiger hit a field goal early in the fourth, the flood gates opened late for the Spartans. In the game's final five minutes, Cook hit Shelton for a second scoring hook-up between the two, and LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes each added a touchdown rush to turn things into an absolute blowout.
It ended up being a fine offensive day for the Hoosiers, too, with Sudfeld throwing for 308 yards and three touchdowns. But, as has too often been the case, a good offensive day for Indiana was overshadowed by a poor defensive one. The Hoosiers have lost all four conference games they've played, a four-game losing streak after starting the season 4-0.
Michigan State, meanwhile, improved to 8-0 with the victory and remain in prime position for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Perhaps a 26-point win over Indiana isn't a big resume-booster. But the knock on the Spartans has been their inability to forcefully dispatch of inferior opponents. And while this game was as close as two points in the fourth quarter, the final result ought to meet the blowout criteria many observers have been looking for.