Le'Veon Bell rushed for a career-high 253 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries as No. 21 Michigan State outlasted Eastern Michigan, 23-7, on Saturday.
Dion Sims caught six passes for 112 yards and a touchdown and Andrew Maxwell completed 16-of-29 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown for the Spartans (3-1), who bounced back from a disappointing 20-3 loss to Notre Dame last week.
"I thought Dion Sims played well and defensively I thought we played well throughout the game. We need to play more consistently. Players make plays, plays don't make players," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. "We need to be more consistent in what we are doing and play better. That's the message we delivered at halftime and I thought we played better in the second half."
Garrett Hoskins caught eight passes for 102 yards and Tyler Benz threw for 137 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-26 passing for the Eagles (0-4), who are 0-9 all-time against Michigan State.
"We did a lot of good things. We're fighting the same thing. We give up two drives where the guy doesn't cover the tight end; two separate guys don't do what they're coached to do" EMU head coach Ron English said. "I thought the guys played hard. But, you know, we give up points on two drives because we don't cover the pass."
Trailing 7-6 late in the third quarter, Dan Conroy put the Spartans on top, 9-7, with a 35-yard field goal after MSU's drive stalled on the Eastern Michigan 18.
The Spartans added a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns.
Maxwell found Sims in the end zone on 3rd-and-goal from the 10 to cap a 12- play, 89-yard march in the early parts of the final stanza.
After stopping the Eagles on 4th-down with just under five minutes to play, Michigan State turned to a combination of Bell and Sims, who led the Spartans down the field in six plays before Bell bulled his way across the goal line from 1 yard out.
Following a scoreless first quarter, Conroy, who missed a 39-yarder earlier, finally got the Spartans on the board after splitting the uprights from 35 yards out, capping a 12-play, 74-yard march.
The Eagles answered with 3:58 remaining in the first half when Benz found Donald Scott in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown.
Eastern Michigan forced a fumble on the MSU 28 and needed just one play to find the end zone. Benz delivered a strike to Scott in the middle of the field, splitting a pair of defenders, and the lanky receiver made a highlight- reel catch to put the Eagles in front.
Michigan State cut its deficit to 7-6 when Conroy booted a 44-yard field goal in the third quarter. The Spartans went to Bell on five straight plays before they were stopped on third down and settled for the field goal.
Michigan State went seven quarters without a touchdown until Sims' reception in the fourth ... The Spartans open up Big Ten play next weekend when it hosts No. 16 Ohio State ... This was the first meeting between the schools since 2008 ... The Eagles have allowed 1,093 rushing yards over four games this season.