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Friday, September 2, 2011
Instant analysis: Michigan State 28, YSU 6

By Brian Bennett

Instant analysis from No. 17 Michigan State's 28-6 home win over Youngstown State on Friday night:

How the game was won: It wasn't a particularly pretty performance by the Spartans, especially in the first half. They committed seven penalties in the half and turned the ball over on a muffed punt, leading to a Penguins touchdown. If not for a missed PAT and botched field goal by Youngstown State, the halftime score could have been a lot closer than 14-6.  Michigan State cleaned up its mistakes in the second half, the offense found a little bit better rhythm in the third quarter and the defense kept the Penguins from making more of an upset bid.

Turning point: Isaiah Lewis intercepted a Kurt Hess pass with a little more than eight minutes left and Michigan State clinging to a 21-6 lead. Lewis returned it to the Penguins' 17, and Le'Veon Bell scored his second touchdown of the game two plays later to salt the game away.

Player of the game: Spartans wide receiver B.J. Cunningham had a career night. He caught nine passes for 129 yards and a touchdown. With that performance, Cunningham now is tied for the most career receptions in Michigan State history, an impressive feat at a program that has produced the likes of Plaxico Burress, Charles Rogers and Andre Rison.

Key stat: Quarterback Kirk Cousins was sharp in the opener, completing 18 of 22 passes for 221 yards and a score.

Best moment: Cancer survivor Arthur Ray Jr. got a surprise start at left guard when Joel Foreman surrendered his spot to his fellow senior. Ray -- who had never appeared in a college game before Friday -- was visibly choked up before the game when he found out he would start. Ray played the first offensive snap for Michigan State -- a 7-yard gain -- before heading to the sidelines in favor of Foreman.

What it means: OK, so it wasn't all that impressive of a victory. But it was a difficult week for head coach Mark Dantonio, whose father passed away just days ago. Some sloppiness was to be expected by the offense with three new starters on the offensive line, and things got better later in the game. The defensive line should have dominated more, and it's surprising that the Spartans couldn't manage a single sack against an FCS opponent. Bottom line: a win is a win, and though the Spartans have some things to clean up and work on, that's the same for virtually every team after Week 1.