Michigan State’s offense struggled the first two weeks to put points on the board, but they had no such issues Saturday against Youngstown State in a 55-17 win.
The Spartans racked up 547 yards of total offense – including 227 through the air.
“I thought we had a sense of urgency,” MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. “I thought we needed to play well offensively because we had not played to level that I think we're capable of.”
Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook got his second consecutive start, and he completed 15 of 22 passes for 202 yards and four touchdowns, most of which came in the first half.
In the process, Cook felt like he made the most of his opportunities.
“Every opportunity that I have to go out there I do whatever I possibly can to help this team win,” Cook said. “Whether it’s running the ball, throwing the ball or if I’m on the sidelines. If I’m not in I try to help out the other QBs.”
The Spartans took advantage of good field position on their first drive following a 23-yard punt return from Andre Sims Jr and a facemask penalty. Five plays later, running back Jeremy Langford punched it in from the 3-yard line – his third touchdown this season.
Langford had the bulk of the load with 15 carries for 69 yards with two touchdowns.
Youngstown State responded with a 34-yard field goal to make it 7-3 with 8:38 left in the first.
On its second possession, MSU gained chunks of yards on its way to a 13-yard touchdown catch for Sims with 6:23 to go in the first. The drive began with a 20-yard reception for MacGarrett Kings Jr and a 20-yard run by Cook.
Kings led the receiving core in receiving yards with 61 yards with four catches and a touchdown.
“(We did) real good offensively,” Kings said. “We just wanted to prove and show everybody what we can do. We're not a one-dimensional offense. We can't just run the ball, we can pass the ball, we've got guys who can catch.
The Spartans put up their third touchdown of the first quarter on a 12-yard pass from Cook to fullback Trevor Pendleton, who was wide open in the end zone on a wheel route.
The Penguins came back with a touchdown drive, which was capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Martin Ruiz with less than 5 minutes before halftime.
The Spartans broke it open with two scores in the final 5 minutes of the half. The first score was a 24-yard catch by Kings on the first play following a fumble recovery by defensive end Shilique Calhoun.
“Macgarrett Kings has had a great fall camp for us,” Dantonio said. “He catches everything — his confidence is very high right now.”
About 1:30 later, Bennie Fowler broke a couple tackles on his way to a 17-yard score.
Nick Hill opened the scoring in the second half when he took a draw and ran it in 35 yards untouched and put the Spartans up 42-10.
Hill would finish the game with nine rushes for 83 yards and one touchdown.
“I thought Nick Hill played very, very well,” Dantonio said. “He gave us a spark there with that big run before (the) half. He’s electrifying at times.”
Langford added his second touchdown and made it 49-10 with a 2-yard run with 3:58 to go in the third to cap an 11-play drive.
Youngstown State’s Ruiz scored his second touchdown of the day on a short pass from Kurt Hess, which he took 39 yards to make it 49-17 near the end of the third quarter.
Kevin Muma tacked on a field goal with 7:37 to go to make it 52-10.
On the ensuing kickoff, YSU’s Michael Wheary fumbled and Ezra Robinson recovered it at the YSU 12. Three plays later, Muma knocked through another field goal to make it 55-17.
The Spartans moved to 3-0 and will face Notre Dame in South Bend next Saturday at 3:30 p.m.