The Cougars (3-3) outgained the Spartans (2-3) 398 to 206 in total yards. The BYU defense held Michigan State to its lowest output since 187 against No. 13 Nebraska in 2011.
The rushing attack churned up 260 yards on the ground, the fourth time this season with 200-plus rushing yards.
After being down 7-3 at the half, BYU scored touchdowns on its first four possessions of the second half and held the Spartans to one late score in the fourth quarter.
"You know our guys kept fighting through and second half was ours," BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said. "I think I made the statement before, we could win this game at the line of scrimmage and I thought our guys did a great job on the offensive line, defensive line and so it was a great win and I'm proud of the guys and looking forward celebrating this one and getting on to the next one."
Taysom Hill completed 18 of 27 passes for 138 yards and one touchdown along with rushing 47 yards and one touchdown. Jamaal Williams tallied 163 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the win. It was his fourth game of 160-plus rushing yards this season.
In BYU’s first offensive possession of the game, the team was facing 4th and 6. After deciding to go for it, Hill found Jonah Trinnaman, but he was stopped 2 yards short.
Michigan State marched down the field on its first possession. Draining the clock, the Spartans scored on an 8-yard rush with 4:10 left in the first quarter to take the early 7-0 lead. They would not score again until 4:59 remained in the game.
The Cougars reached the blue zone to start the second quarter, but the Spartan defense made the stop on 4th and 1. BYU responded with tough defense of its own, holding Michigan State to punt on their second quarter drives.
To end the first half, the Cougars had the ball to try to get on the board. After Hill rushed 11 yards to convert on third down, Rhett Almond kicked a 35-yard field goal to make it 7-3 heading into the break.
After Michigan State’s opening offensive drive that tallied 72 yards, the BYU defense held the Spartans just 33 yards the rest of the half.
To start off the second half, Tautu recorded two tackles in a row, including a sack, to force the Spartans to punt.
In BYU’s ensuing possession, the offense drained 7:29 from the clock as it methodically moved down the field. Facing third down, Hill rushed 3 yards to convert. He ran the ball four times on the drive, including one for 12 yards. He was also 4 for 4 passing on the drive. Colby Pearson caught a 4-yard pass from Hill for the Cougars’ first touchdown. BYU took the 10-7 lead with 4:52 left in the third quarter.
Travis Tuiloma came up with a big sack in the Spartans’ next possession to force a punt.
Squally Canada boosted the Cougars’ drive with two lengthy runs in a row for 14 and 9 yards. On 4th and 1, Hill found Quin Ficklin rolling out from being an extra blocker for a gain of 2 yards and the first down. Hill then found an opening and rushed 12 yards into the end zone to push the lead to 17-7 with 12:43 to play.
Following a fourth down conversion by Michigan State, Michael Davis picked off backup quarterback Damion Terry. Davis returned it for 40 yards to put the offense in a good position with 9:29 on the clock.
Rushing got the job done for the Cougar offense again. Canada put BYU in position with a 21-yard gain. Williams finished off the drive, carrying the ball 8 yards for another touchdown. The Cougars’ lead extended to 24-7 with eight minutes to play.
Michigan State was able to score after allowing 24-unanswered points from BYU. The Spartans capped off a 75-yard drive with a 1-yard rush to make it 24-14 with 4:59 on the clock.
After a 62-yard rush by Williams to get into the blue zone, Hill handed it off to Williams again for a 1-yard rush for his second touchdown on the day. With 1:59 to play, BYU was up 31-14, which would hold as the final score.
BYU returns home next week for the homecoming matchup against Mississippi State at 8:15 p.m. MDT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN along with the radio broadcast on KSL 1160 AM/102. FM, BYU Radio – Sirius XM 143 and the Cougar IMG Sports Network.
PROVO, Utah – After a thrilling win against Toledo, BYU football heads back on the road to face Michigan State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EDT on ABC/ESPN2. Specific details on coverage with ABC and ESPN2 will be announced Thursday, October 6.
Live coverage will be on the Cougar IMG Sports Network with Greg Wrubell, which can also be found on Sirius XM 143, 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and BYUcougars.com. IMG’s radio coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. EDT.
BYUtv will provide pregame and postgame coverage of the matchup, starting with Countdown to Kickoff starting at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Postgame coverage runs for half an hour after the game on BYUtv.
Please see the map below for viewing options in your area. Areas in blue will be televised on ABC and green on ESPN2. The game is also available on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN App. Click HERE to watch online.
BYU (2-3) at Michigan State (2-2)
Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016
Kickoff: 3:36 p.m. EDT
Spartan Stadium (75,005)
East Lansing, Michigan
SERIES HISTORY. BYU and Michigan State are meeting for the first time in the history of the two programs.
BIG TEN. BYU is facing an opponent from the Big Ten, marking the fourth different conference BYU has faced in 2016. The team has already played games against the Pac-12, Big 12 and MAC. The Cougars are currently 4-8-1 against the Big Ten. Last year BYU split two games with the league, defeating Nebraska in the season opener and losing to Michigan.
DANTONIO AGAINST BYU. MSU head coach Mark Dantonio has never faced BYU as a head coach but was the defensive secondary coach of the Kansas team that defeated BYU 23-20 in the 1992 Aloha Bowl.
SAGARIN RANKINGS. USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin ranks BYU’s 2016 schedule the 7th toughest to date. The six teams ahead of BYU and their respective records are (1) Oklahoma 2-2, (2) Stanford 3-2, (3) Florida State 3-2, (4) USC 2-3, (5) Ole Miss 3-2 and (6) Georgia 3-2.
JAMAAL WILLIAMS. Jamaal Williams set the school single-game record with 286 rushing yards against Toledo and tied another with five touchdowns. His 286 yards are the most by any player in the NCAA this year. He was named the College Football Performance Awards National Performer of the Week along with the College Sports Madness Independent Player of the Week. His 703 total rushing yards are No. 2 nationally.
Head coach Kalani Sitake
Living with close games
I’m good with the close games if we win. Two out of the five, I’ll be happy with. But I’d be a lot happier if we played clean on all phases. I was really happy with the offense and the progress they made, especially when there were a lot of people questioning them a few weeks ago. I’m excited about that. The defense has done some great things in the past, so we’d like to return to that. The special teams have been solid—to have two kickers be able to kick game-winning field goals for us is huge. We just need to play a complete game as a group.
Toledo, BYU’s defensive play
Toledo’s a really good team, so I think you have to give them a lot of credit. Their quarterback, Logan, is a good player and he’s done some great things. We didn’t help ourselves out with some of the mistakes we made defensively and a lot of it was poor discipline on our defense. In order to play this style of defense, we need more guys to believe and play the right technique. One guy makes a mistake or tries to do his own thing and they just happened to capitalize on it right away. I wasn’t really happy with the fundamental part of tackling and that had a lot do with the technique and body positioning. When your technique is poor, it’s going to affect tackling. I’m disappointed in the big plays that turned into big scores. We’re going to give a few plays here and there—I’d like to give no plays away—but you can’t make matters worse by missing tackles.
Disrupting opponents’ offense
The D-line just has to play the game like they practice and we’ll be fine. All of the stuff we do in our drills and all of the stuff we did in practice today, all of that carries into the game. And when they get into the game, they have to do it with the technique. They have to. Otherwise, it’s not going to work. This defense will only work if the D-line dominates the line of scrimmage and you can only dominate the line of scrimmage with the technique that we’re teaching. Effort and hard work and all of that stuff gets you places, but that’s already a given. The technique and fundaments of the game at the line of scrimmage have to be physical and you have to be able to do what we’re asking you to do, otherwise it’s not going to work.
O-line’s role in creating holes for Jamaal Williams
I think Coach (Mike) Empey has done a great job with the O-line. They got bigger and stronger, but assignment-wise, they were able to get on blocks and get a body on body. When you allow Jamaal to just run and people are trying to tackle him with just their arms, it’s not going to work out too well for them.
On Jamaal Williams
He’s got great vision. Jamaal does a great job of setting up blocks. Being a former fullback, I’d love to block for a guy like that—he’s where he’s supposed to be and breaks big ones. I think Jamaal talked about it before: the blocking from all of the guys on the field sprung him for touchdowns. Going into the season, we thought he’s a special one. He’s going to have to have a lot of big games like that to help us win.
Challenges of Michigan State
They are a great program. They’re big, physical, strong guys.They’re coming off an overtime loss. I know they’ll be anxious to get home and be excited to play this game. So we’re expecting a physical game and it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re coming off a win and our defense has something to prove, so this is a great week to do it.
Senior WR Colby Pearson
What’s it like to have all these last-minute drives as a receiver?
It’s stressful. I think we’ve had enough of that for a little while, so let’s take a break on those. Hopefully we can win these next few games with a bigger margin and we don’t have to do that anymore.
Description of catch in last drive
It was a post-route with an out concept underneath me. I saw the safety come down and I knew I had a chance one-on-one. I beat him across his face and I thought, “Hopefully he throws the ball.” I look up and he put it right on the money. It was good and it was exciting.
How the catch felt
It felt good for me. I felt like I hadn’t really done anything in the game- like one catch previously. I knew I needed to do something. When I saw the ball in the air, I knew I needed to go get it no matter what. Luckily, I was able to come down with it. I thought he had some pretty good coverage after I made him flip his hips. He closed pretty well, but I was able to hold on.
Game focused on run-blocking
Jamaal was tearing it up. We knew if we were going to win this game run-blocking, then we’re just going to run-block as hard as we can. Coach (Ty) Detmer came up to me and told me it was a big situation, “I’m proud of you for coming up and making a play. I understand you guys were run-blocking most of the time and hadn’t really gotten in a groove of catching balls.” he said. I’m glad I was able to step up in that moment.
Receivers helping block for Jamaal after O-line makes initial blocks
I think it turns big runs into bigger runs or potentially big touchdown runs. Usually, one or two of those guys get away and they can help get him down the field a ways. Obviously, if he gets out to us, it’s already a successful play. We did a good job of blocking down the field, I think.
Senior OL Parker Dawe
On the performance of the offensive line
I feel like we are playing awesome. I am super proud of everyone we have up front right now. A big part of that is we are starting to focus on executing and making sure we’re working the right stacks and getting to the right backers. I attribute a lot of that success to the coaching staff for helping us recognize those things. That’s why we saw a lot of success this past weekend.
We watched film this morning and there are still things we need to do better. You’d think that after so much success on offense, there would be a lot of praise, but we knew there were things we need to get better at. When we execute, we are very dangerous. We saw that on Friday with Jamaal running the ball and the school record. We’re hoping to build upon that this weekend against Michigan State.
On game-winning drives
My whole experience last year and this year since I’ve really gotten the opportunity to play has been BYU coming back in the last drive. We go out there and it’s cool to see all the leaders we have on the field. We go into a drive knowing that we’re going to score. We’re not scared; we’re not nervous. That’s just the maturity we have as on offense.
Progression of the offense during the season so far
What a lot of people didn’t see when we played UCLA and Utah is that we did really well up front. We did really well in protection and even just manhandling, but we didn’t execute. A lot of guys that were making the plays were backers that were slipping out from combos that we needed to work as an offensive line, or even tight ends that were coming down and picking up the backers. That is something that hurts us in those two games. But against Arizona, West Virginia and Toledo, we executed. That was the difference. It’s us beating ourselves as an offense more than other teams beating us.
On Michigan State
They are a good team. We’re going to this game with that mindset. We’re not afraid of them but we’re preparing to play a good defense. We just need to be able to out-execute them.
On Coach Empey
Coach Empey has brought a breath of fresh air to the BYU offensive line. I feel like I’ve really learned the fundamentals an offensive lineman needs to know to be successful. Coach Empey has pounded those details and techniques of a pro-style offense into our heads so we can dominate on the field. We’ve seen a lot of success in our offense because of that. Every week we’re just getting better and that’s because of what he’s brought.
Freshman DB Dayan Lake
On the defense performance
We weren’t so happy about it. Toledo put up too many points and we felt like we could have done better. It was a disappointing game for us and we have a lot of improvement to do. We’re going to work on that. We need to execute. We need to trust our speed. We feel like can cover anyone in the country, and we can keep up with them. We need to trust our coaches and not try to do our own thing. When we do our own thing, that’s when the mistakes happen.
On his interception
It was nice. It was my first interception of my freshman year. I was happy about it. I had my running back instinct come out from high school. I love running the ball. As soon as I caught it, I thought, “I’m taking this to the house.” Sadly I didn’t, but I was close.
On Michigan State
They are a good team. They are going to focus on running, and of course they don’t think we can cover them. Coach Gilford says if we can stop their run, they are going to have to go into spread because of their pro-style offense. If we stop their run, we can stop their pass too. That means we have to step up, of course. They are a good offense. But I feel like we match up with them. It’s going to be a good game.
On young guys learning on the fly
It’s good because we’re young. It’s going to be good for us in the upcoming seasons as we go into the mix, play as young corners and get experience under our belts. We’re going to create havoc for other teams in the years to come. We’re just getting better and helping each other out.