East Lansing, MI – Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes time receptions leader, as No. 17 0.
Cunningham took little time in reaching the top of the receiving mountain, hauling in a first-quarter pass for his 149th career reception, moving past former football and basketball standout Matt Trannon for the top spot. Cunningham caught five passes for 73 yards on the day.
"I told him he needed one catch before the game and I said, 'Make it a good one,'" said Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. "I thought he did. We were punting if he had not made that catch."
Le'Veon Bell ran for 69 yards and a score, while Edwin Baker added 50 yards and a trip to paydirt for the Spartans (2-0), who face their first test next Saturday at Notre Dame. Cousins finished 16-of-21 for 183 yards in the victory.
Florida Atlantic (0-2) was again on the wrong end of a rout after dropping a 41-3 decision to Florida last week. The Owls managed just 48 total yards one week after managing only 137. The quarterbacks finished 6-of-13 for 26 yards and were sacked three times. Florida Atlantic also posted just one first down in the game compared to 27 for the Spartans.
"We thought we would come up and play much more consistently and we didn't. We played inconsistently and horrible," said FAU head coach Howard Schnellenberger. "I have to reiterate the talent of our opponent; I don't know if Florida or Michigan State is better but they've both improved and are very good.
"So what we do, as we have done in the past, is go home and find out what we can do better and have our kids play more consistently. I'm not sure that if we played better the score would have been a whole lot different. The defense could not stop them and our offense couldn't move the ball at all."
It didn't take long for the Spartans to reach paydirt, as Cousins moved them 51 yards on seven plays, including a 23-yard strike to Cunningham. Baker finished off the march with a nine-yard scoring jaunt.
After forcing another three-and-out, the Spartans again moved the football at will. This time they moved through 73 yards of real estate, including a pair of third-down conversions. They also introduced another talented back to the overmatched Owls, as Bell ran for 40 yards on the march, including a two-yard plunge into the end zone.
A pair of second-quarter drives stalled before the end zone, as Dan Conroy connected on 50- and 41-yard field goals for a 20-0 edge. They again crossed the goal line in the final moments of the quarter, completing a four-play, 43- yard drive with Cousins' one-yard toss to Dion Sims and a 27-0 edge.
Michigan State dominated both the scoreboard and the stat sheet in the opening half, racking up 263 total yards and posting a rushing total (81 yards) that more than tripled Florida Atlantic's total yardage (26).
"Anytime you throw a shutout in 2011 I think you get a phenomenal performance by your defense," said Dantonio. "I thought our players played and executed the defense very, very well. Offensively, we controlled the football, controlled the tempo."
The Spartans moved the ball at will on their first possession of the second half, but the normally-reliable Conroy botched a 28-yard try. Undeterred, they used the power running game to increase their edge moments later. A heavy dose of Bell, six runs out of seven plays, pushed the Spartans to the doorstep of the goal line, and Cousins completed the drive with an eight-yard TD toss to Garrett Celek.
A 28-yard field goal by Kevin Muma and a 37-yard fumble return by Jeremy Langford capped the scoring.
Michigan State has won all three meetings with Florida Atlantic...Keshawn Martin finished with seven catches for 72 yards in the victory...Nick Hill added 56 yards on the ground for the Spartans...Michigan State finished with 434 total yards.