Despite being ranked in No. 4 in the nation, Michigan State went the entire 2012 season without a defensive touchdown.
It took just 8 minutes, 33 seconds in the 2013 season for the Spartans defense to get on the board, when linebacker Jairus Jones intercepted a pass and lateraled it back to safety Kurtis Drummond, who ran it back for the score.
"Thanks for reminding me (about last year)," defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. "Me and Coach Barnett sitting up next to each other, high-fiving each other after some of those happen. You know, Jairus (Jones) gets a pick and pitches it back to Kurtis (Drummond) and Kurtis scores."
The Spartans tallied a second defensive touchdown late in the game. Defensive end Marcus Rush sacked Broncos quarterback Zach Terrell and forced the fumble, which was picked up by Shilique Calhoun, who ran it back for a 16-yard score.
"You guys come out in practice and see us trying to rake the quarterback's arm and all that," Narduzzi said. "We got one. Shilique, he had two arms around his waist and it is surprising he was able to scoop and score because he had two arms around his waist. He pulled free and scooped and scored."
Jones said it was great to get two touchdowns after not having any last season.
"We put a big focus on it throughout this offseason, so we are just happy we could do that," he said.
Drummond said the Spartans took a step forward from last year and the defense feels more complete in creating turnovers.
"There were still things that we needed to work on and we realized that and we realized that that was last year," he said. "That's why this year we really are trying to work on those things and be a complete defense and try to be the number one defense in the nation."
All in all, Michigan State forced four turnovers as Jones added a second interception and Drummond added one – a leaping, one-handed one, at that.
Jones said the opening performance showed progress from last year – and that the offense is going to come around to put points on the scoreboard, too.
"We missed out on a lot of opportunities to score points on our defense last year," he said. "The offense is going to put up their points, they're eventually going to turn it around.
"We just gotta do our part."