AP Sports Writer
EAST LANSING (AP) — Tyler O’Connor threw for 190 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 12 Michigan State held off upset-minded Furman 28-13 on Friday night.
O’Connor went 13 of 18 with an interception, a generally efficient performance in his second career start. The fifth-year senior is taking over as Michigan State’s No. 1 quarterback after spending the past three seasons backing up Connor Cook.
Michigan State was merely serviceable on offense for most of the night, and that was good enough against Furman. LJ Scott ran for 105 yards and a touchdown, but the Spartans let the Paladins hang around for a while in the opener for both teams.
Down 21-13, Furman took over at the Michigan State 44 with 11:49 remaining after O’Connor’s pass was intercepted. But P.J. Blazejowski’s pass was picked off on the very next play — linebacker Andrew Dowell made a diving, one-handed grab to give the Spartans the ball back.
O’Connor threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jamal Lyles with 4:55 remaining to make it 28-13.
The Spartans have won 18 home openers in a row.
Furman: Blazejowski and Reese Hannon were listed together atop the depth chart at QB, but it was Blazejowski who got the call, with coach Bruce Fowler going with the junior over his fifth-year senior. Blazejowski went 15 of 30 for 123 yards with an interception, and the Paladins looked better offensively as the game progressed.
Michigan State: O’Connor put up decent numbers, but the Spartans were underwhelming after scoring a touchdown on their opening drive. Michigan State split carries fairly evenly between LJ Scott, Madre London and Gerald Holmes last season, but on Friday it was Scott who did most of the work. London had only five carries and Holmes didn’t have any.
Michigan State had 10 penalties for 120 yards, which was part of the reason the Spartans had trouble putting the game away earlier.
Furman: The Paladins can be pleased with their effort against the defending Big Ten champions. They play at The Citadel next weekend.
Michigan State: The Spartans have an open date — and a lot to work on — before playing at Notre Dame on Sept. 17.
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