EAST LANSING (AP) – Le’Veon Bell ran for 81 yards and three touchdowns – all in the first half – to lead Michigan State to a 45-7 victory over in-state rival Central Michigan on Saturday.
The Spartans (3-1) bounced back from last weekend’s loss at Notre Dame, taking advantage of four Central Michigan turnovers. Isaiah Lewis returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, helping Michigan State race to a 31-0 halftime lead.
The Chippewas (1-3) finally scored in the third quarter after a blocked punt when Ryan Radcliff threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to David Blackburn.
After struggling to run the ball against Notre Dame, the Spartans immediately re-established that part of their offense. Michigan State’s first five plays were runs by Edwin Baker. Then Kirk Cousins threw deep to B.J. Cunningham for a 54-yard gain to the Central Michigan 1-yard line.
Bell scored on the next play.
Cousins threw an interception early in the second quarter, but Radcliff returned the favor. Michigan State’s Trenton Robinson intercepted his pass at the 3-yard line and returned it 34 yards. The Spartans then moved down the field with five straight runs, capped by Bell’s touchdown from 5 yards out.
A.J. Westendorp came on at quarterback for Central Michigan but quickly threw two interceptions, the first of which was returned for a touchdown by Lewis. Bell’s 13-yard touchdown with 1:23 left in the second quarter made it 31-0.
Cousins wasn’t especially sharp, going 13 of 22 for 213 yards. He did throw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Larry Caper in the third quarter before being relieved by backup Andrew Maxwell.
Maxwell threw his first career touchdown pass, a 3-yarder to Dion Sims in the fourth.
Michigan State was missing three recently injured offensive linemen, but the Spartans looked strong enough up front in their last game before Big Ten play begins. They’ll be tested a lot more next month, when they face Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Saturday’s game was part of a “Celebrate the State” series in which Michigan State is to play a dozen games between 2011 and 2020 against either Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan or Western Michigan, including one road game against each. The Spartans are scheduled to play at Central Michigan next September.
The Chippewas beat Michigan State 29-27 on a last-second field goal in the teams’ previous meeting, in 2009. This one wasn’t close. The Spartans outgained Central Michigan 481-112, and the turnovers only made Michigan State’s job easier.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)