No. 14 Michigan State runs for 6 TDs in 52-0 rout of Akron

Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK
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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Jalen Berger ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns and Michigan State’s defense forced four fumbles Saturday to help the 14th ranked Spartans to a 52-0 victory over Akron.

It was the largest margin of victory for Michigan State (2-0) since beating Eastern Michigan by 59 points in 2014.

“Our focus was better, our intensity throughout was better,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said. “There was a lot of good things for us to build upon with our team in all three phases. And we have some things to clean up if we expect to go on the road and get anything done.”

Kendell Brooks, filling in for injured starting safety Xavier Henderson, forced the ball out twice in the first quarter. He has forced three fumbles in the Spartans’ first two games.

“KB, he’s getting better,” Tucker said. “We have confidence in him to go in the game and get the job done and make plays and be physical and knock the ball off people. I think as he gains more experience he’s going to continue to get better. That’s good when guys can go in, execute and make plays.”

On Akron’s opening drive, the senior safety knocked the ball loose from tight end TJ Banks and linebacker Cal Haladay picked up the ball and ran 22 yards to the Michigan State 41. Six plays later, Jarek Broussard scored on a 1-yard run. Haladay later forced a fumble in the second half when he sacked backup quarterback Jeff Undercuffler.

“I was just reading my keys,” said Brooks who was making his first career start at Michigan State. “It was cover 3 so I was reading the quarterback. I saw him take his hand off the ball and throw. So I kind of just broke and I glanced over to the tight end to see where he was throwing, and I just ran through contact.”

Brooks also punched the ball out from receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis, leading to a 1-yard touchdown run by Berger.

Jacoby Windmon, who had four sacks against Western Michigan last week and another one and vs. Akron, forced his second fumble in two games when he pounced on a bobbled pitch to Jonzell Norrils and Berger followed with his second score on another 1-yard run.

Michigan State closed the first-half scoring with Jack Stone‘s 43-yard field goal to make it 24-0.

The Spartans continued the scoring in the second half with a 16-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Noah Kim to Tre Mosley, 2-yard touchdown runs by Broussard and Berger, and a 1-yard run by Elijah Collins.

Broussard said he doesn’t mind sharing the workload with Berger. In addition to the five touchdowns, the pair accounted for 188 of Michigan State’s 260 rushing yards.

“I feel like we complement each other really well running the ball,” Broussard said. “There’s no drop-off from my point of view.”

Akron coach Joe Moorhead said the turnovers killed any hope of pulling off an upset.

“Can’t turn it over once against a team like this, let alone four times and expect to win,” he said. “You can’t put your defense in adverse situations like that. Two or three of the turnovers resulted in scores for the other team. … You can’t let a team like Michigan State that’s big and physical get extra possessions and wear you down.”

INJURY REPORT

Akron (1-1) starting quarterback DJ Irons was knocked out of the game with just over six minutes left in the first half. The Big Ten Network broadcast reported that he was taken to a hospital with a lower body injury. Moorhead did not have an update on Irons’ condition after the game.

Michigan State’s leading receiver Jayden Reed suffered a cut on his back late in the first half when he was pushed out of bounds and was held out of the second half.

STREAKING SPARTANS

Michigan State has now won eight straight home games and also 14 straight games against Mid-American Conference teams. The last loss was to a MAC foe was to Central Michigan in 2009.

THE TAKEAWAY

Akron: With Irons knocked out of the game after completing 9 of 13 passes for 123 yards and running for 31 yards, the Zips could not move the ball much.

Michigan State: Even though he completed 18 of 28 passes for 212 yards, quarterback Payton Thorne continued to miss open receivers for the second straight game and threw two interceptions.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Spartans were expected to win convincingly against the Zips and may actually move up slightly in the poll.

UP NEXT

Akron: Stays on the road and will play at No. 24 Tennessee on Sept. 17 and at Liberty on Sept. 24.

Michigan State: Goes on the road Sept. 17 to play Washington and hosts Minnesota on Sept. 24 in both teams’ Big Ten openers.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.