No. 16 Michigan State (10-3) took down No. 18 Washington State (9-4) 42-17 on Thursday in the 2017 Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke won offensive MVP honors while Chris Frey took defensive MVP honors. The Spartans put up 440 yards of offense en route to their fifth bowl victory in seven years.
Michigan State-Washington State score, recap in 2017 Holiday Bowl
Michigan State 42, Washington State 14 FINAL: Michigan State posts win No. 10 this season. But in a big milestone, coach Mark Dantonio reached win No. 100 as the Spartans coach.
Michigan State 42, Washington State 17 (Q4, 6:14): Any Washington State momentum quickly got squashed. LJ Scott and Brian Lewerke reentered the game after an onside kick, and Scott broke off a 28-yard touchdown run.
Michigan State 35, Washington State 17 (Q4, 8:26): Washington State marched down the field, and Tyler Hilinski found Tay Martin for his second touchdown grab of the game.
Michigan State 35, Washington State 10 (Q4, 10:31): Josiah Scott got ejected for targeting and saw his night cut short early. It didn’t look particularly malicious, but a review confirmed the decision.
Michigan State 35, Washington State 10 (Q4, 11:23): After Brian Lewerke took another big hit, Michigan State turned to Damion Terry. His second drive didn’t go as well, as he telegraphed a pass that got picked off by Frankie Luvu.
Michigan State 35, Washington State 10 (Q3, 0:00): Madre London got some run for Michigan State and took it 18 yards on 3 carries to close out the quarter.
Michigan State 35, Washington State 10 (Q3, 2:06): Washington State finally got things going on offense. The Cougars kept going at Josiah Scott and found success, eventually hitting Tay Martin for a 14-yard score. Antjuan Simmons left the game during the drive after laying a crushing hit.
Michigan State 35, Washington State 3 (Q3, 5:08): What a moment for Damion Terry. The fifth-year senior ran it in from 6 yards out for a score in the final game of his Michigan State career.
Michigan State 28, Washington State 3 (Q3, 6:25): Brian Lewerke appeared to take a shot to the helmet on a run near the goal line, got up and then fell back down. He received assistance on the sideline, but it appeared to be focused on his leg rather than his head. Damion Terry entered the game.
Michigan State 28, Washington State 3 (Q3, 8:55): The miscues continued for Washington State. A fumbled snap was recovered by Chris Frey at the Cougars’ 27-yard line, and the Spartans kept rolling.
Michigan State 28, Washington State 3 (Q3, 10:28): The Spartans kept on coasting and moved the ball downfield with ease. In the red zone, Brian Lewerke scrambled and found Cody White for the true freshman’s second touchdown grab of the game.
Michigan State 21, Washington State 3 (Q2, 0:00): In a season of nail-biters, Michigan State finally gave itself a comfortable lead at halftime. With 21 second-quarter points, Michigan State matched its most points in a quarter of a bowl game.
After starting 0 for 4, Brian Lewerke completed 10 of 11 throws to finish out the half. Michigan State finished the half with 265 yards to 102 for Washington State.
Halftime stats for Michigan State. pic.twitter.com/vuZFJsrR1h
— Luke Srodulski (@lsrodulski) December 29, 2017
Michigan State 21, Washington State 3 (Q2, 0:29): Michigan State found success running it up the gut, got down near the goal line with a screen pass to LJ Scott, and then Scott ran it in from 3 yards out on the next play. The Spartans kept on rolling while Washington State sputtered.
Michigan State 14, Washington State 3 (Q2, 4:34): This scoring drive didn’t take nearly as long for Michigan State. It took just over two minutes for Felton Davis to lose his marker and catch a 49-yard touchdown. The fake option run appeared to get Davis wide open.
Michigan State 7, Washington State 3 (Q2, 6:37): Washington State once again failed to get anything going thanks in large part to pressure from Joe Bachie. The Cougars punted once again, and Michigan State would start on its own 37-yard line.
Michigan State 7, Washington State 3 (Q2, 7:34): When Michigan State fans talk about their excitement for the future, Cody White has to be one of the first names that come to mind. First the true freshman moved the chains with a leaping 16-yard grab, and then he reeled in a 15-yard touchdown pass after Brian Lewerke rolled out to keep the play alive. Michigan State’s drive took 9:24 off the clock and accrued 81 yards on 16 plays.
Now with 31 yards tonight so far on two catches in the @HolidayBowlGame, Cody White has set a new MSU true freshman record for most receiving yards in a season, now with 480 yards so far and still counting! #HolidayBowl #GoGreen
— Spartan Football (@MSU_Football) December 29, 2017
Washington State 3, Michigan State 0 (Q1, 0:00): Michigan State completed its first pass of the game with a 1-yard gain to Hunter Rison. Brian Lewerke kept it on the next play for a first down, and then the Spartans were set back by a false start on true freshman lineman Kevin Jarvis before the end of the quarter.
Washington State 3, Michigan State 0 (Q1, 1:58): Washington State’s drive was over as soon as it began when Raequan Williams burst through the line for a big-time sack. The Cougars punted, and Cody White reeled in the fair catch at Michigan State’s 19-yard line.
Washington State 3, Michigan State 0 (Q1, 3:27): Early in the drive for Michigan State, offensive guard Brian Beedle appeared to injure his right knee and had to be helped to the sideline. Michigan State moved the ball on the ground thanks to improvisation from Brian Lewerke, but there was no rhythm to the Spartans’ passing game. Felton Davis dropped a good throw on fourth-and-4, allowing Washington State to take over.
Washington State 3, Michigan State 0 (Q1, 5:45): Michigan State forced a fourth-and-5 for Washington State in Spartans territory, and it looked like the Cougars would go for it before a timeout and official review led to the third-down call of a catch out of bounds being overruled. Washington State picked up a first down with that call, got 7 more yards and knocked through a 45-yard field goal to take the lead.
Michigan State 0, Washington State 0 (Q1, 11:50): Michigan State moved the ball downfield with a 17-yard LJ Scott run on the Spartans’ first play from scrimmage, but then the offense stalled and Michigan State had to punt. Washington State’s Jamal Morrow muffed the punt but recovered at his team’s 8-yard line.
Michigan State 0, Washington State 0 (Q1, 13:39): Michigan State forced a three-and-out with Tyler Hilinski under center for Washington State. A poor punt put Michigan State in business at its own 41-yard line.
Michigan State 0, Washington State 0 (Q1, 15:00): Washington State quarterback Luke Falk was ruled out of the game, giving Michigan State a huge advantage. The Cougars took the ball to open the game.
Michigan State entered the field with white helmets and pants as well as green jerseys. The Spartans showed up at the stadium a few minutes after Washington State.
— Spartan Football (@MSU_Football) December 29, 2017
On the Cougars’ side of the field, quarterback Luke Falk had his hand gloved and did not put much pressure on it at all. His status for the game remained in question leading up to kickoff.
Holiday Bowl 2017: Michigan State-Washington State TV channel, time, live stream
Kickoff time: 9:05 p.m. ET
Date: Thursday, Dec. 28
Location: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego
TV channel: FS1
Live stream: FOX Sports GO
Holiday Bowl 2017: Michigan State-Washington State football picks, odds
Michigan State is a 2-point favorite on MyBookie. The over-under is 47 1/2 points.
Holiday Bowl 2017: Michigan State-Washington State preview
Thursday will mark the first meeting between Michigan State and Washington State in 40 years. The two programs have faced off seven times, with the Spartans holding a 5-2 advantage, but this will be the first time they have battled at a neutral site. Here are three things to watch.
1. Michigan State’s pass rush
It’s pretty clear how Washington State is going to attack on offense. The Cougars have the second-best passing offense (374.8 yards per game) and the second-worst rushing offense (71.7 yards) in the nation. Quarterback Luke Falk was seen with a cast on his non-throwing hand in the lead-up to the game, but coach Mike Leach did not sound concerned about his record-breaking signal-caller.
“He’s doing great,” Leach said. “You can use your imagination all you want about the cast. He has had something on his hand all year and hence we named him the Kingslayer. Beyond that you’re on your own.”
Expect Falk to play, expect Washington State to air it out and expect Michigan State to try to get plenty of pressure on him. Defensive end Demetrius Cooper will look to go out with a bang, and Kenny Willekes has been a menace all season. If the Spartans can force Falk outside the pocket and give him less time to throw than he’d like, they will be in good shape.
2. Wide receiver play
A lot will depend on Brian Lewerke. The Michigan State quarterback’s accuracy has been inconsistent at times, and he likely will have to keep plays alive with his legs against a Washington State pass rush that averages 3 sacks per game. But the Spartans wide receivers against the Cougars’ standout secondary will be key on Thursday.
“We’ve got to make plays on 50-50 balls much like they do,” Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. “You’ve got to put the ball in the vicinity, and the receiver has to make the tough catch. That run after catch is very important as well, so we’ve got to limit it on our defensive side and be able to exploit it on our offense.”
When Michigan State hears “50-50 balls,” Felton Davis comes to mind. Lewerke has lofted balls up and put his faith in Davis to come down with them all year. At 6-foot-4, Davis will have a significant size advantage against the Washington State defensive backs. The Spartans’ leading receiver needs to make his presence felt.
Mistake-free football usually wins the day. That will especially be the case on Thursday, because Washington State has issues with protecting the football. The Cougars have thrown 19 interceptions and lost 10 fumbles on the year, and 4 of those giveaways were returned for touchdowns.
Michigan State had fumbling issues early in the year, but those problems seem to have been ironed out. Should the Spartans protect the ball, they will give themselves a good chance of winning the field-position battle. And considering all the close games Michigan State has played this season, one crucial turnover could decide it.