(Saturday, October 10th)
Final Score: Michigan State 24, Illinois 14
Champaign, IL (Sports Network) - Making his first start under center for Michigan State, sophomore Keith Nichol threw for 179 yards and the Spartans claimed a 24-14 road win over Big Ten foe Illinois.
Larry Caper carried 16 times for 95 yards and a touchdown for Michigan State (3-3, 2-1 Big Ten), and he also had 44 yards receiving.
With Illinois (1-4, 0-3) struggling on offense, head coach Ron Zook started junior Eddie McGee at quarterback and benched senior and four-year starter Juice Williams. But McGee was pulled early in the third quarter after completing just 2-of-8 passes for 31 yards and an interception. Williams came on in relief and threw for 109 yards and a touchdown, but it was too little, too late for the Fighting Illini.
The Spartans drove right down the field on their opening possession, and Glenn Winston scored on a two-yard run to give MSU an early 7-0 lead.
The Spartans' next drive covered 81 yards in 13 plays and chewed up 6:24, as Caper found the end zone on a 17-yard scamper.
MSU kicker Brett Swenson connected on a 35-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to give the Spartans a 17-0 lead.
Illinois got the ball to start the second half, but McGee was intercepted by MSU safety Danny Fortener, who returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.
The Fighting Illini got on the board with Mikel Leshoure's three-yard touchdown run at the 3:33 mark of the third quarter, which was set up by a Nichol interception.
But Illinois' next touchdown didn't come until there was 1:24 remaining in the fourth quarter, when Williams hooked up with Leshoure for a 41-yard scoring strike.
The Illinois offense converted just 3-of-14 third downs and finished with a modest 272 yards of total offense. The Illini held the ball for just 23:53, compared to 36:07 for MSU.
10/10 16:35:24 ET