Payton Thorne throwing an interception on the first play of the game felt like it was going to play into a rough day for Michigan State football.
But that just wasn’t the case.
Michigan State bounced back to score 23 straight points after trailing 7-0 and took firm control of the game. Illinois made a late push to try and tie the game, but the defense stepped up when it needed to and closed the game strong by stopping the Illini short deep in Spartan territory.
Clock management was questionable late, but this was a massive win for Michigan State.
3. The defense stepped up big-time
Going into the game, I had very little hope for the defense. This unit was missing about 10 guys and Scottie Hazelton called a fantastic game.
Michigan State’s defense stepped up to keep the nation’s leading rusher to just 4.1 yards per carry and Tommy DeVito got his yards, but never really gashed the secondary. He had 288 yards and two touchdowns on 37 attempts.
But the defense really clamped down in key situations, holding Illinois to zero fourth-down conversions and really changing the game with massive turnovers on downs.
Have to tip my hat to Hazelton here.