Payton Thorne named starting QB for MSU ahead of opener vs. Northwestern

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Evanston, Ill. — After a position battle that began in the spring and lasted throughout preseason camp, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker finally revealed his starting quarterback just minutes before the Spartans’ season-opener at Northwestern.

On his pregame radio show, Tucker said third-year sophomore Payton Thorne would get the start ahead of graduate transfer Anthony Russo.

Payton Thorne

Thorne started once last year, throwing for 325 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Penn State. It seemed like plenty of momentum to become the starter as Rocky Lombardi entered the transfer portal. But soon after the season ended, Russo committed to MSU.

The Temple transfer arrived in time for spring practice and the battle was on.

Russo had much more experience, starting 26 games during his time at Temple.

However, when the Spartans take the field Friday night at Ryan Field, it will be Thorne starting for the second time in his career as Michigan State looks to win a third straight in the series.