Noah Kim threw for 279 yards and two touchdowns, helping Michigan State pull away to beat Central Michigan 31-7 on Friday night.
The Spartans (1-0) started slow in Kim’s first start due to errant throws and dropped passes before taking control with accurate passes, clutch catches and stingy defense.
“I just think it was jitters,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said.
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Nathan Carter had a 2-yard, go-ahead touchdown run with 48 seconds left in the first half and the Connecticut transfer finished with 113 yards on 18 carries.
The Chippewas (0-1) led 7-3 late in the first half after Bert Emanuel Jr. threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Chris Parker, but they gave up an 84-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession in less than a minute and couldn't recover.
“We gave ourselves an opportunity,” Central Michigan coach Jim McElwain said. “They took advantage obviously of that turnover and then there in the second half we never got it back.”
Kim, who began 2 of 7 for 6 yards, converted a third down with a 32-yard pass to Jaron Glover and connected with him on a 33-yard pass that set up Carter's touchdown to put Michigan State ahead 10-7.
The fourth-year quarterback completed 18 of 31 passes, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to Tyrell Henry and an 8-yard pass to Maliq Carr for a score to give the Spartans a 31-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
“Once we were rolling, we did pretty well,” Kim said.
Emanuel was 11 of 17 for 87 yards with a touchdown and an interception, a deflected pass picked off by standout linebacker Cal Haladay.
“Offensively, I felt we didn’t give our defense a chance because we had some three-and-outs and short clocks and they took advantage of it,” McElwain said.
Emanuel's father, Bert, is a former NFL wide receiver with 28 career touchdown receptions.
ON SECOND THOUGHT
Michigan State's Alante Brown was carted off the field with an injury after the game-opening kickoff and came back in the game, returning a kickoff 16 yards late in the first half. Brown was on the sideline, not in uniform, in the second half.
“He was cleared to come back and then we took him out,” Tucker said. “Those are medical decisions that I support 100%.”
GOING FOR IT
Tucker went for it on fourth down twice out of a shotgun formation, both runs up the middle were stopped short.
He said there wasn't enough time to explain why Kim wasn't under center to hand off in the short-yardage situation, but acknowledged the results were a problem.
“That’s an area we need to improve,” he said.
CMU: Emanuel is potentially a dual-threat quarterback, but the Chippewas will need to develop a passing game to help them bounce back from a four-win season and approach the nine victories they had in 2021.
MSU: Mel Tucker chose Kim over Katin Houser to take the first snap and kept him in the game even when he didn't get off to a good start in part because teammates dropped some passes in the first half.
Tucker said he didn't think about replacing Kim with Houser when he was struggling through 1 1/2 quarters.
“We didn't have any plans to do anything else,” he said.
CMU: Hosts New Hampshire on Sept. 9.
MSU: Hosts Richmond, a second-tier program, on Sept. 9 before facing a tough test against No. 10 Washington at home Sept. 16.