Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Sophomore quarterback Keith Nichol made his first career start for Michigan State today against Illinois, replacing classmate Kirk Cousins, who is still bothered by a right ankle injury.
Cousins, who participated in pregame warmups, is still expected to play against the Illini, but Nichol led a 7-play, 60-yard touchdown drive to open the game. Glenn Winston set up the drive with a nice kickoff return and finished it off with a 2-yard scoring plunge. Nichol also connected with Mark Dell for a 23-yard completion, a good sign given Dell's absence in the offense lately.
Not much fight from a desperate Illini team early on at Memorial Stadium.