Michigan State beats Florida Atlantic 30-17
Detroit , MI – Edwin Baker ran for an 80-yard touchdown and had 183 yards rushing to lead Michigan State to a 30-17 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
The Spartans (2-0) wore their road whites in the Motor City matchup that was originally scheduled to be at the Owls' new stadium in Boca Raton, Fla.
Florida Atlantic (1-1) chose to play at the Detroit Lions' home because its 30,000-seat venue won't be open until next year.
Baker's 80-yard TD put Michigan State ahead 27-7 early in the third quarter.
The Owls had a chance to pull within a TD and 2-point conversion with 2:50 left, but coach Howard Schnellenberger settled for a field goal instead of going for it from the Michigan State 6.
Kirk Cousins had 142 yards passing, a TD and an interception for the Spartans.
Florida Atlantic's Jeff Van Camp was 23-of-35 for 215 yards and a score.
The Sun Belt Conference school was hoping to pack Ford Field with Michigan State fans, but the announced crowd was just 36,124 and there seemed to be fewer fans in seats. Florida Atlantic athletic director Craig Angelos said he hoped to make $1 million after expenses, adding that windfall would exceeded what the school will likely make at its true home games.
The Owls wore their home uniforms and got to control much of what went on -- including piping in owl sounds when Michigan State had the ball on third down on its opening drive -- and had FAU painted at midfield and Lions removed from the end zones.
Michigan State, though, had many advantages in the game that was a 90-minute drive from its East Lansing, Mich., campus.
Baker was the biggest one.
The sophomore ran with speed and power, making the most of his 15 carries to hold off freshman Le'Veon Bell for playing time after he ran for 141 yards in his debut in last week's win against Western Michigan.
Bell ran for 49 yards on 10 carries and put Michigan State ahead 10-0 early in the game with a 9-yard run after stiff-arming linebacker Michael Lockley onto his back.
The Spartans' weakness is pass defense and that was exposed against Van Camp, who completed nearly two-thirds of his passes to wide-open options all over the field.
Van Camp's TD pass to Xavier Stinson pulled Florida Atlantic within 13 points late in the third quarter.
After Dan Conroy kicked a third field goal -- from 50 yards -- the Owls put themselves in a position to possibly make the ending interesting. Schnellenberger stunted any potential excitement by deciding to have Ross Gornall kick a 24-yard field goal late in the game