No. 5 Michigan State holds off No. 7 Oregon 31-28
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Fittingly, Michigan State needed to hold one more time on fourth down against Oregon's always-dynamic offense.
When the pass by Vernon Adams fell incomplete, the Spartans had secured a victory that could be awfully crucial by the time this season ends.
Connor Cook threw for two touchdowns, and No. 5 Michigan State held on to beat No. 7 Oregon 31-28 on Saturday night in college football's marquee game of the week. The Spartans stopped the Ducks four times on fourth down, including one key stand in the second quarter near the Michigan State goal line.
The Spartans (2-0) led for most of the second half, and it was 31-21 before Oregon's Vernon Adams threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Byron Marshall with 3:25 remaining. After a Michigan State punt, the Ducks (1-1) drove to the Spartans 33 before Adams overthrew Marshall, who had beaten his defender.
The Spartans then sacked Adams for a loss of 10, and his fourth-down pass was incomplete.
LJ Scott ran for two touchdowns for Michigan State, and Aaron Burbridge caught eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
It was the first time two teams in the AP top 10 met at Spartan Stadium since 1966, when No. 2 Michigan State and No. 1 Notre Dame played to a 10-10 tie. Cook threw for 192 yards and Scott ran for 76. Madre London added 103 yards rushing for the Spartans.
It was tied at 14 after Bralon Addison returned a punt 81 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter, but Michigan State took the lead again on Scott's 6-yard touchdown run. A 38-yard scoring run by Scott made it 31-21 with 10:51 remaining.
Adams nearly rallied the Ducks. His scoring pass to Marshall marked the 70th consecutive game Oregon had thrown a TD pass, breaking a record the Ducks had been sharing. Texas Tech had a streak of 69 games from 2006-2011.
But Michigan State held on at the end, and now the Spartans have a big win on their resume as they try for a spot in college football's four-team playoff. Michigan State still has to deal with Ohio State in the Big Ten, of course.
Oregon drove 75 yards in 13 plays on the game's first possession, taking the lead on a 2-yard touchdown run by Royce Freeman. The Spartans answered with an even quicker TD. London broke free for a 62-yard run on Michigan State's first offensive play, and Cook threw a 12-yard scoring pass to Josiah Price.
What looked like an offensive showcase in the making quickly simmered down. Michigan State's Michael Geiger missed a 28-yard field goal attempt later in the first quarter, and Adams threw an interception.
Michigan State took the lead on Cook's 17-yard touchdown pass to Burbridge early in the second quarter, and although Oregon drove all the way to the 1-yard line, the Spartans held, stopping the Ducks on fourth down.
Adams improvised impressively later in the second, scrambling in third down and throwing with his left hand to an open Addison for 25 yards. But his next pass was intercepted.
Still, the Spartans couldn't pull away. Cook was intercepted in Oregon territory, and it was 14-7 at halftime.