Two seasons ago, it took Michigan State into its 11th game to score its 200th point. On Saturday, Michigan State broke the 200-point mark for the season early in the fourth quarter of its fourth game – a 56-14 win against Wyoming.
Perhaps nothing is more indicative of how far Michigan State has come in the past two years than it taking almost 400 minutes of gametime less to score 200 points.
Coach Mark Dantonio said he does not even think back to how hard it used to be for Michigan State to score anymore following another blowout win at Spartan Stadim.
”I’m living in the moment,” he said. “We have never exploded like this out of the gate with our offense in the years that we’ve been here before.”
The start is so historic it far predates Dantonio and Co., as the Spartans have scored a school-record 201 points through the first four games of the season. This week – after scoring 73 points last Saturday against Eastern Michigan – the Spartans had 42 at the half.
”We came out last week and wanted to score points, came out this week and wanted to score points because we can,” quarterback Connor Cook said. “We know what we are capable of.”
It is a far cry from a season ago even, as running back Jeremy Langford said Michigan State’s offense is far ahead of where it was a season ago.
“Last year, we were slow,” he said. “This year, we have a lot of confidence and we’ve got veterans back. We have a versatile offense.”
Against Wyoming, the Spartans scored on their first six drives of the first half and led 42-0 at halftime. Keith Mumphery had a pair of first-half scores, with a 33-yard run and a 6-yard reception.
The Spartans got on the board on their first drive behind the play of Langford, who ran six times for 52 yards on the drive, including a 36-yard run on the first play of the game.
”We mentioned coming into today that we wanted to get (Langford) going a little bit, get his confidence up and our offense's confidence in him up,” offensive coordinator Dave Warner said.
Langford finished with his first 100-yard game of the season with 136 yards on 16 carries with a 29-yard touchdown. He was part of a running attack for Michigan State that tallied 338 yards on 52 carries a week after running for 336 yards on 60 attempts.
Cook had his second straight short day as he had just 12 pass attempts, completing eight for 126 yards and two touchdowns and a rushing score. He connected with Tony Lippett for his first touchdown, giving Lippett six on the season and a score in his sixth straight game dating back to last season against Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.
Delton Williams, who had three touchdowns a week ago, had one touchdown on a drive he accounted for 32 of the 40 yards on the drive in the second quarter.
Josiah Price added a 19-yard touchdown reception from Cook in the second, while Tyler O’Connor had a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter to put Michigan State past the 200-point mark for the season.
Such an explosive offense is a luxury afforded to the Spartans defense and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, something he noted has not always been the case.
”We haven't had that,” he said. “I think this is our eighth season here, but we haven't had the opportunity since I've been here.
”We've always had a nip-and-tuck game to the end, so Cook, Warner and Coach (Jim) Bollman have done a great job of really being explosive.”
For the third straight game, Michigan State’s defense found itself allowing the occasional big play, something not seen often last season.
Wyoming scored its first touchdown on a 57-yard run up the middle by Shaun Wick, who broke through a tackle attempt from safety R.J. Williamson. Narduzzi said he is not concerned about the issues Michigan State has had in the secondary early this season.
”As a coach, we like to be perfect,” Narduzzi said. “You get mad because you gave up one last week. Those guys work all week to try and make plays. As coaches, you try to stop every one of them, but you can't be perfect.
”We never will be, as coaches or as players, perfect. We just keep coaching. It's good that our offense was big.”
“The preseason is over, the Big Ten season starts,” Narduzzi said. “It’s a whole new season.”