Michigan State Spartans underdogs at No. 24 Miami

Youngstown State's Jaleel McLaughlin, center, is stopped by Michigan State defenders, including Quavaris Crouch, left, and Jacub Panasiuk, right, on Saturday in East Lansing. (AP photo)


AP Sports Writer

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Michigan State’s offense has been a surprise this season.

So has Miami’s, in a very different way.

The Spartans (2-0) are moving the football more easily than they have in years, and they’ll look to keep that going on Saturday when they visit No. 24 Miami (1-1) in their first matchup in more than 30 years.

Michigan State has put up at least 38 points in back-to-back regular season games for the first time since 2015 and has topped the 500-yard mark in consecutive games for the first time since 2014. Plus, the Spartans have led for nearly an impossible 99.7% of the time in their first two games — after getting 75-yard touchdowns on the opening play of each contest.

“Obviously, we want to be efficient when we run the plays,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said. “The plays are drawn up to be successful, not to fail.”

The Hurricanes averaged 440 yards of offense per game last season and 6 yards per play; so far this season, they’re averaging 320.5 yards of offense and 4.6 yards per play. Granted, playing No. 1 Alabama in the opener skews those numbers considerably — but Miami heard plenty of boos from its home fans last week when it had to squeak out a 25-23 win over Appalachian State on a late field goal from Andres Borregales.

“We have to play a lot better,” Miami quarterback D’Eriq King said.

Wake Forest transfer Kenneth Walker III has provided a huge lift for Michigan State, with 321 rushing yards already this season. He’s gotten 30 carries in the two games for the Spartans and was stopped for a loss only once.

“He’s explosive, he’s got good vision, he’s got very good ball skills, plays with really good toughness,” Tucker said. “And getting to know him, he’s a first-class individual. He’s very high character, unselfish, team-oriented player and those are the types of players we need here that can help us be successful.”