LANSING, Michigan (AP) – You can’t fault the Owls for trying. The first 3 games of the season had them facing the Gators and the Michigan State Spartans, and in two weeks, Auburn. Unfortunately, FAU seems like that may have been over-reaching a bit, especially after Saturday’s 44-0 shutout at the hands of the Spartans.
The Owls have an open date next week. They appear to need it.
Kirk Cousins threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 17 Michigan State held Florida Atlantic to one first down in the utter domination of the Owls. .
B.J. Cunningham caught five passes for 73 yards, breaking a tie with Matt Trannon for Michigan State’s career lead in receptions. The Spartans (2-0) led 27-0 at halftime and ended up outgaining FAU 434-48.
Cousins finished 16 of 21, and backup Andrew Maxwell also played quite a bit.
Michigan State has held an opponent to one first down only one other time — against Maryland in 1944.
Michigan State beat Youngstown State 28-6 in its season opener but didn’t pull away until well into the second half. The Spartans looked much sharper against FAU. Cunningham entered the game even with Trannon at 148 catches, but he had two receptions on Michigan State’s first drive to take sole possession of first place on that list.
Edwin Baker capped that drive with a 9-yard touchdown run, and Le’Veon Bell added a 2-yard scoring run late in the quarter to make it 14-0.
Dan Conroy equaled his career best with a 50-yard field goal that made it 17-0, then added a 41-yarder.
Cousins made it 27-0 with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dion Sims with 12 seconds remaining in the half, and the senior quarterback caught a bit of a break in the third quarter when his fourth-down pass went through the hands of FAU’s Keith Reaser and was caught by Garrett Celek for an 8-yard touchdown.
The Spartans were uncharacteristically shaky on special teams in their opener, but Keshawn Martin provided a boost Saturday with a nifty 35-yard punt return in the second quarter that helped set up Sims’ last-minute touchdown.
Conroy did miss a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter, hitting the left upright. Backup kicker Kevin Muma made a field goal from the same distance in the fourth to make it 37-0.
FAU quarterback Graham Wilbert went 4 of 10 for 15 yards, and the Owls couldn’t run the ball either against Michigan State’s tough defensive front. In the fourth quarter, FAU’s Xavier Stinson ran for 14 yards and what would have been the Owls’ second first down — but he fumbled, and Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford returned it 37 yards for a touchdown and a 44-0 lead.
The only FAU first down came in the second quarter, when backup quarterback David Kooi threw an 8-yard pass to DeAndre Richardson on second-and-4.
FAU will have a much-needed open date next weekend, while the Spartans play at Notre Dame.