After a loss at Oregon and a bye week, the Spartans were eager to get on the field and the offense showed it, scoring touchdowns on their first five possessions on their way to a 73-14 win.
“Letting that loss kind of stir, stick with you for two weeks, was really bad,” quarterback Connor Cook said. “I think that’s why we came out here so hungry, angry, pissed off.
”You go out there and put up 70-plus points and try and pitch a shutout.”
The game was never really in doubt as Michigan State set a modern-era record with 49 first-half points. With 73 points, the Spartans set the third-highest mark in school history, bested only by 76 vs. Northwestern in 1989 and 75 vs. Arizona in 1949.
It was a statement for the Spartans, coach Mark Dantonio said, as the focus was on showing up ready to play after two weeks of waiting.
“We asked for our players to come game ready and that was sort of the theme for this week in terms of what we needed to do,” he said. “I thought we needed to make a statement, we were able to do that.”
Michigan State came out and scored early and often against the Eagles on Saturday, while the defense was lights out, allowing just one yard to Eastern Michigan in the first half.
The Spartans scored through the air and the ground early, with two rushing leading off before three passing scores followed, but the ground game was key with a focus on power football. The rushing attack accounted for seven touchdowns in the win, with Delton Williams leading the way with a career-high three scores and 103 yards.
”I think those guys want to bear down and re-emphasize that need to run the football and that’s what we came in this game wanting to do,” co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner said. “Still wanted to mix it up a little bit but we wanted to run a little bit of power football and it’s good to be able to do that.”
While Williams keyed the rushing attack, Jeremy Langford also accounted for 60 yards on five carries, including a 21-yard touchdown run. R.J. Shelton and Nick Hill accounted for the other rushing scores, from six and four yards, respectively.
Cook got the Spartans rolling with a 4-yard run up the middle on a zone read on the first drive of the game. He finished with 5 of 6 with 83 yards and two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
The pair of passing scores went to senior Tony Lippett, who now has touchdowns in five straight games and five on the season in just three games.
The game was out-of-hand before the MSU starters could pile on the stats, allowing all three MSU quarterbacks to make an appearance in the first quarter.
”With the game going the direction it was, I didn’t want to play just Connor Cook in the first half,” Dantonio said. “I wanted to put those guys into situations where they had to make plays and it was a little more open when it comes to running and throwing the football.”
Sophomore Tyler O’Connor threw the first touchdown pass of his career hitting A.J. Troup for a 33-yard touchdown with 11:04 left in the first half as Michigan State led 35-0.
On MSU’s sixth drive of the game, EMU forced the Spartans to punt, but Tyler Allen muffed the return and MSU’s Montae Nicholson recovered. MSU gave Delton Williams the ball to finish off the drive, scoring his first of three touchdowns on the day and extending the MSU lead to 42-0.
The MSU defense controlled the game at the line of scrimmage and forced EMU mistakes the majority of the first half. R.J. Williamson intercepted Rob Bolden with 2:46 remaining in the first half, giving MSU its second straight possession in EMU’s redzone.
The play initially was called back when the officials flagged linebacker Darien Harris for targeting quarterback Rob Bolden, but the play was reviewed and overturned.
This time, Damion Terry led a touchdown drive to close the half. R.J. Shelton was given a jet sweep and sprung for six yards, extending MSU’s lead heading into halftime to 49-0.
Michigan State brought out O’Connor to start the second half and used both back up quarterbacks the rest of the way.
Hill scored a 4-yard touchdown run while gaining 45 yards on eight carries on MSU’s first drive in the second half.
Eastern Michigan finally got on the board when Bolden hit Tyler Allen for a 43-yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 56-7. The touchdown came on a coverage bust reminiscent of what MSU saw against Oregon.
After the second muffed punt by Eastern Michigan, MSU took advantage and chipped in another field goal, extending the lead to 59-7 with 2:26 remaining in the third.
After an O’Connor interception from his own end zone, Eastern Michigan hit on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Bolden to Tyreese Russell making the score 59-14.
Two more Williams touchdown runs in the fourth quarter would extend the MSU lead to 73-14.