EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — LJ Scott ran for 146 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 2 Michigan State held on through a lackluster second half to beat Purdue 24-21 on Saturday.
The Spartans (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) led 21-0 at halftime, but Purdue had the ball near midfield with a chance to tie or take the lead before David Blough threw incomplete on fourth down with about a minute to play in the game.
The Boilermakers (1-4, 0-1) turned the ball over three times in the first half.
Michigan State’s Connor Cook went 13 of 19 for 139 yards and a touchdown, and he became the school’s career leader with his 28th victory as the starting quarterback. Kirk Cousins won 27 games.
Michigan State has had at least one 100-yard rusher in every Big Ten game since Oct. 5, 2013, against Iowa. That streak may be in jeopardy this year since the Spartans have been splitting carries fairly evenly between Scott and Madre London. Scott ended up with 18 carries Saturday, and London had 97 yards on 17 attempts.
Cook improved to 28-3 as the starter.
Michigan State was without standout tackle Jack Conklin, and his backup, Dennis Finley, was carted off near the end of the first half with an apparent right leg injury.
Scott opened the scoring with an 18-yard touchdown run, breaking free when Purdue safety Leroy Clark tried to grab his leg. Later in the first quarter, Michigan State drove 94 yards on eight plays to make it 14-0 on Scott’s 1-yard run.
R.J. Shelton added a 23-yard touchdown in the second quarter on what looked like an end-around, but Cook had apparently flipped the ball forward as the receiver came across to take it, and the play was credited as a touchdown pass.
This was the 100th Homecoming game for Michigan State, and the weather didn’t cooperate. Attendance was announced at 74,418, and Spartan Stadium was pretty much full in the first half, but the crowd emptied out considerably at halftime.
The Boilermakers cut into the lead in the second half. Markell Jones’ 68-yard scoring run made it 21-14 with 14:10 remaining, but the Spartans, keeping the ball mostly on the ground, drove 65 yards to set up Michael Geiger’s 30-yard field goal.
Purdue answered with an impressive drive of its own, and Jones’ 3-yard touchdown run with 6:44 to play made it a three-point game.
Jones finished with 157 yards on 22 carries.