Michigan State quarterback Caleb Cook finished the game completing 15-of-16 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns, but the Spartans are much more reliant on their defense, which came up big once again, including a key goal line stand that prevented the Illini from scoring.
“They (Michigan State) don’t give you much, and they are extremely well-coached,” Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit said. “They have six seniors on the defensive unit, and they play like it”.
The Illinois rushing attack was basically non-existent, with Josh Ferguson doing most of the work, carrying the ball 10 times for just 26 yards.
“We just didn’t get the job done on offense today, and not being able to get in the end zone on that goal line stand was a huge momentum swing for Michigan State,” Illinois tight end Jon Davis said.
The Illini defense, which has been suspect all season, continued that trend against the Spartans, allowing 477 yards of total offense.
“It basically boils down to hammering out the fundamentals and working on each detail that it takes to be a good defense,” Illini defensive coordinator Tim Banks said.
Michigan State improves to 7-1 overall and remains undefeated in the Big Ten at 4-0, while the Illini fall to 3-4 overall and 0-3 in conference play.
Illinois travels to Penn State next Saturday looking to snap their long conference losing streak, in a game that will have an 11 a.m. central time kickoff. The game can be heard on WDAN AM 1490 and WDNL 102.1, as well as the Illini Radio Network.
Jim Cotter is a freelance writer for the Commercial-News, and can be reached for comment at email@example.com.