Recap: Payton Thorne and Co. lead MSU past Miami, 38-17, for first 3-0 start since 2015

Tony Paul
The Detroit News


Quarterback Payton Thorne threw for four touchdowns, Kenneth Walker III had another monster game and Michigan State beat No. 24 Miami (Fla.), 38-17, on the road Saturday.

The Spartans are 3-0 for the first time since 2015.

Walker rushed for 172 yards and had a receiving touchdown, his sixth score through three games after transferring from Wake Forest. Thorne was 18-for-31 for 261 yards, with TD passes to Walker, Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor (two). Reed also had a rushing TD. Nailor finished with 82 receiving yards. Thorne didn't have an interception.

The nail came with just over 4 minutes left in the game, when Thorne found Nailer for a 39-yard score. The previous play, Thorne picked up a fourth-and-1, thanks to good blocking from center Matt Allen.

All this came after Thorne was hurried on the opening drives of the game, getting little time to throw. He was sacked on each of the first two drives, but quickly made the adjustments.

For Miami (1-2), quarterback D'Eriq King was 38-for-59 for 388 yards, but lost two fumbles and threw two picks — the last collected by Michigan State's Ronald Williams to all but the ice the game.

The Spartans had one takeaway all of last season.

Charleston Rambo had 12 receptions for 156 yards, with two TDs, for the Hurricanes.


Payton Thorne, have a day.

The Michigan State quarterback threw his fourth touchdown pass of the day with a little more than 4 minutes left in the game, finding Jalen Nailor on a 39-yard strike.

Michigan State leads, 31-17.

The previous play, Michigan State went for it on fourth-and-1, and Thorne just barely picked it up with the quarterback sneak, thanks to good blocking from center Matt Allen.

That's the second TD pass of the day for Nailor.

Thorne has thrown for 261 yards, without an interception.


Miami kicker Andres Borregales missed from 29 yards earlier in the game, but he was dead, solid perfect from 55 yards as the Hurricanes pulled within 24-17 of Michigan State with more than eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.


Just when it seemed like Miami had the momentum, Michigan State's defense put an end to that.

Michigan State's Drew Beesley brought the pressure on Miami quarterback D'Eriq King and forced a fumble, which was scooped up by Jacub Panasiuk.

It was the third turnover of the game for King, with two fumbles and an interception.

The Spartans, with the ball in Hurricanes territory, took advantage, with Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne finding his good friend Jayden Reed for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

It was Thorne's third touchdown pass of the game, to no interceptions.

It's now Michigan State 24, Miami 14, early in the fourth quarter.


It seems that Miami quarterback D'Eriq King's right shoulder is just fine.

After receiving some treatment in the locker room, King came out firing and led Miami to a touchdown, finding Charleston Rambo on a 14-yard strike for the score. 

It's 17-14 Michigan State.

King completed six passes on the drive, including an earlier 25-yard pass to Rambo, against an increasingly soft Michigan State secondary. King has more than 300 yards passing.

After the TD, officials looked at possible targeting against safety Angelo Grose, but found none.


Things are looking sunny in south Florida for Michigan State.

Quarterback Payton Thorne found Jalen Nailor for an 11-yard touchdown strike halfway through the third quarter, opening up a 17-7 lead for the Spartans over Miami.

It capped an impressive 10-play drive, which featured more great leg work from Kenneth Walker III (139 yards rushing). Connor Heyward also had a 24-yard reception on the drive as his career resurgence continues.

Even worse for Miami, quarterback D'Eriq King was headed to the locker room after landing awkwardly on his right (throwing) shoulder earlier in the half.


Michigan State has the lead at halftime, 10-7, but it could've been better.

An interception by Michigan State's Angelo Grosse gave the Spartans another crack at putting points on the board before halftime, and the Spartans got to Miami's 38. But the drive stalled there when quarterback Payton Thorne was sacked for a loss of 9 yards.

It's the third time Thorne has been sacked in this game.

Miami scrambled to get one last crack at some first-half points, but came up short.

Miami committed two turnovers in the first half, and also six penalties for 53 yards. The Hurricanes also missed a chip-shot field goal, and so the Spartans have the slim lead.

Michigan State will get the ball back to start the second half, too.

Some first-half stats:

Michigan State: Payton Thorne, 9-for-17 passing, 141 yards, touchdown. Kenneth Walker III, 12 rushes, 86 yards, receiving touchdown. Tre Mosley, 2 receptions, 57 yards.

Miami: D'Eriq King, 20-for-24 passing, 210 yards, touchdown, interception. Charleston Rambo, 9 receptions, 109 yards, touchdown. 


It's the Kenneth Walker show again.

Walker caught a 7-yard touchdown pass to give Michigan State its first lead of the day, late in the second quarter. He also had several rushes on the drive, including one burst for 25 yards.

That was his sixth touchdown of the season, since transferring from Wake Forest.

Walker has more than 100 all-purpose yards on the day, already.

The biggest play on the drive, though, was a 28-yard pass from Payton Thorne to Jalen Nailor, which got the Spartans on the door step of the end zone.

It's 10-7 Michigan State.


One wasted drive deserves another.

Miami was grooving in the middle of the second quarter, with quarterback D'Eriq King completing one pass after another, including 14-, 27- and 9-yarders to start the drive.

But some stalled momentum, thanks to multiple flags on both teams, brought the drive to a halt.

Holding penalties on Miami had the Hurricanes settling for a 29-yard field-goal attempt, which was unbelievably pulled wide left by Andres Borregales.

The score remains 7-3 Miami, and Michigan State escaped a big jam there.

King is 11-for-13 passing, for 131 yards.


The offenses are starting to find a bit of a groove in south Florida.

On the first play of the drive, Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne found Tre Mosley for 51 yards, a pass helped out by a 15-yard horse-collar tackle penalty.

That got the Spartans inside the 25-yard line, but the drive stalled from there with a couple failed passes.

That brought on Matt Coghlin, who missed from 39 yards. A big gaffe to end a promising drive.

The Spartans are trailing for the first time this year.


Michigan State's defense got a bit soft on its latest drive, and Miami took full advantage.

Miami quarterback D'Eriq King found Charleston Rambo on a 3-yard pass for a score on fourth down.

Rambo was the star of the drive, with five catches, including a 28-yarder and 21-yarder, and just like that, it's 7-3 Miami over Michigan State with about 10 minutes left in the second quarter.

Miami went 75 yards in less than four minutes, the drive taking 10 plays.

One thing to watch: The right leg of King, who was limping. It's a surgically repaired knee


Michigan State has struck first in Miami, though it's probably a bit disappointing to come away with only three points. A false start to open the second quarter in the red zone set the Spartans back.

Matt Coghlin, the fifth-year kicker for the Spartans, nailed his attempt from 23 yards, and it's 3-0.

That capped an 11-play drive by Michigan State.

Kenneth Walker is starting to feel it, thanks to that drive. He has 49 yards on eight carries.


Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne probably got sick of being on his back, so the Spartans offense went with some quick-strike passing on its third drive. And it's paying off.

Michigan State got to Miami's 13-yard line as time ran out on the opening quarter.

The drive began with a couple passes to Tyler Hunt, totaling 20 yards, and it picked up steam with a 26-yard rush from breakout star Kenneth Walker III. Later, on third down, Thorne took matters into his own hands, scrambling 9 yards for a first down to end the quarter.

The drive has been helped out by a missed interception chance by Miami.

It's scoreless, but that's about to change soon.


Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne is feeling the heat in Miami, and from the Hurricanes.

Through two drives, he's been sacked twice, once for a loss of 8 yards, and once for a loss of 9.

Both Spartans drives have ended in punts.

Fortunately for them, the defense is stifling Miami, too. It's scoreless late in the first quarter.

This is the first meeting between the programs since 1989.


Miami's offense seemed to moving the ball at ease on its opening possesion, but Michigan State's defense came up big by forcing and recovering a fumble. 

Junior linebacker Quavaris Crouch recovered the ball, which bounced around through the hands of several Miami and Michigan State players.

Then, Michigan State's offense went to work — and while there was no 75-yard touchdown on the first play this week (after the first two), redshirt junior Jayden Reed did rush for a first down.

But the drive fizzled, done in by redshirt sophomore quarterback Payton Thorne being sacked for a loss of 8.

The drive resulted in a punt, a 56-yard beauty by redshirt senior Bryce Baringer which pinned Miami at the 6.


Is Michigan State's 2-0 start a sign of things to come, or fool's gold?

Saturday will provide a pretty good indication.

The Spartans take on No. 24 Miami (Florida) on the road, in a game starting at noon at Hard Rock Stadium.

Michigan State is off to a strong start, which includes a victory at Northwestern in its Big Ten opener, and a rout of overmatched Youngstown State.

Miami, meanwhile, rebounded from a season-opening 44-13 rout at the hands of top-ranked Alabama by slipping past Appalachian State, 25-23, last Saturday.

Follow along here for live updates from Detroit News sports writer Tony Paul.

Michigan State at Miami (Florida)

Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida

TV/radio: ABC/760

Records: Michigan State 2-0, No. 24 Miami 1-1

Line: Hurricanes by 6½