The 13th-ranked Michigan State Spartans topped the 24th-ranked Boise State Broncos by a score of 17-13. Michigan State dominated with its defense against the Broncos and won on the legs of Le'Veon Bell.
The Spartans came out strong in the first quarter, forcing punts on the first two drives. They relied on Bell to get the initial momentum and score. Later in the quarter, however, Andrew Maxwell threw his first interception of the game to set up a field goal for Boise.
Michigan State continued to dominate on defense during the second quarter, but Boise State forced another pair of interceptions and capitalized on both of them. Jeremy Ioane made a perfect read on a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown to bring Boise to a tie. They later hit a field goal after an interception to have a 13-10 lead going into the half.
The third quarter left people scratching their heads as to who wanted to win the game. Missed field goals, fumbles and overall sloppy football plagued the quarter. However, Michigan State went on a drive at the end of the third quarter and created momentum to take into the fourth despite punting.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Spartans played the field-position game to get the ball at their own 44-yard line. They took advantage of great field position and drove down for a touchdown to go ahead 17-13 on the powerful running of Bell.
In a clutch drive for Boise State, the Broncos got stuffed on a crucial 4th-and-2 by the championship-caliber Spartans defense. Bell sealed the game for Michigan State after that.
Referee's Call of the Game
And "False start, offense. Several linemen" was just called. Ah, football. I love you.— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) September 1, 2012
This call happened with 11:40 left in the game as half of the Michigan State offensive line jumped offside.
Grades for Key Boise State Broncos
Joe Southwick: D
Southwick showed on Friday that he isn't even close to Kellen Moore. The Spartans defense completely embarrassed the Boise offense, forcing 5-of-14 on third downs and allowing only 206 total yards. Southwick went 15-of-31 for 169 yards and one interception.
D.J. Harper: F
Normally when a running back gets 15 carries, he is expected to have at least double digits for yardage. However, D.J. Harper got a total of eight yards. The under-one-yard-per-carry average is terrible, and just shows that Boise has a lot of work to do in order to return to its "BCS buster" status.
Grades for Key Michigan State Spartans
Andrew Maxwell: C-
Maxwell led the Spartans to a victory, mainly by handing the ball off to Bell. He did register 248 yards passing for the Michigan State offense and managed a third-down conversion rate over 50 percent.
Le'Veon Bell: A+
MSU's Le'Veon Bell finishes with 265 total yards, Boise State's offense with only 206 yards.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 1, 2012
Bell looked amazing Friday. His 265 yards came on 50 touches (44 carries for 210, six receptions for 55). At this rate, Bell could wind up in New York for the Heisman ceremonies in December.
The Broncos head home to host Miami of Ohio on Sept. 15. They will have over two weeks to rest up and get ready for the Redhawks.
The Spartans head an hour away to Mt. Pleasant in order to take on Central Michigan in their first road game. Michigan State won't leave the state until an Oct. 6 matchup with Indiana.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL draft website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.