Spartans rally for victoryPublished 11:15am Monday, September 3, 2012
EAST LANSING — The Michigan State Spartans opened their season in front of 78,709 people, the largest opening-game crowd since 1990.
Every one of those in attendance knew the Spartans wanted to run the ball better than the 2011 season.
Despite struggles in the passing game, Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell looked as good as the new scoreboards in the Spartans’ 17-13 victory over Boise State.
Michigan State’s offensive coordinator Dan Roushar was asked earlier in the week how much he wanted to get the ball to Bell. “A lot” was Roushar’s response. No one knew he meant that much.
Bell was the game’s workhorse with his 44 carries for 210 yards and six receptions for 55 yards. Both were career highs.
“You can’t underestimate 44 touches, and not fumbling the ball and not coming close to fumbling it,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said.
“I had no idea how many carries or yards I had,” Bell said. “It was the most I’ve had in my collegiate career. But I’ve still got a lot of things to work on to get better.”
In the third quarter, with Michigan State facing third-and-16 from its own four, Bell uncorked a Barry Sanders-like run, reversing directions, making defenders miss and rattling off a 35-yard gain, perhaps Bell’s biggest highlight.
One of Bell’s best plays won’t show up in the highlights and many fans might not have noticed, but his coaches are sure to give him some Kudos for a huge block he made.
After previous drives had stalled out due to penalties and turnovers, Michigan State was driving midway through the fourth quarter, trailing by three points and facing a third-and-six on the Boise State 25, Andrew Maxwell dropped back to pass. Bell made a great decision to turn back to his left and picked up a rushing Boise State defender, allowing Maxwell the time to make a big first down completion to Dion Sims.
Bell then capped off the drive with a 2-yard run on first and goal and then a 5-yard touchdown.
The Spartans outgained Boise State 461 yards to 206, but only looked in control of the game during the first and last series. Hampered by costly penalties and turnovers much of the rest of the game the offense couldn’t seem to get out of their own way.
For what the offense lacked in luster, the Spartan defense shinned. Controlling the prolific Bronco offense (ninth in the nation last year) to no offensive touchdowns and yardage lows in both the passing game and running game under seventh-year coach Chris Peterson.
An assist on the MSU victory might go to the new scoreboards and the Detroit Tigers.
Midway through the third quarter, when the crowd had been rocked to sleep by the mistake plagued Spartans, the new giant scoreboard in the South end zone flashed the Tigers’ 7-4 win over the Chicago White Sox.
The crowd erupted and came to life and the Spartans soon followed suit.