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Indiana's new quarterback struggles as No. 8 Michigan State pulls away for 56-17 blowout

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BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Indiana coach Kevin Wilson knew Michigan State's defense would pose a real problem for his new quarterback.

The Spartans didn't disappoint, and Zander Diamont couldn't figure it out.

Diamont finished with 11 yards passing, and No. 8 Michigan State scored the final 35 points Saturday to ruin the true freshman's college debut with a 56-17 blowout.

"We needed to take the ball down the field some, We had a couple shots," Wilson said. "But again, you're playing Michigan State, which brings a lot of pressure. They have a great third down package, they challenged every receiver out there. They make you work for everything. He (Diamont) just had a tough day."

It was a dismal week for the Hoosiers (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten), who lost their top two quarterbacks — Nate Sudfeld and Chris Covington — to injuries.

Diamont went just 5 of 16 through the air, though he did give Indian a short-lived 17-14 lead on a 9-yard TD run with 5:25 left in the first half.

The nation's top rusher, Tevin Coleman, ran 15 times for 132 yards to become the first 100-yard runner against Michigan State (6-1, 3-0) this season. He extended his streak of consecutive 100-yard games to nine, but his school record streak of consecutive games with a rushing score ended at 15.

And the worst part of all was seeing starting left tackle Jason Spriggs placed on a backboard, carted off the field and taken to a hospital with upper neck pain after an apparent helmet-to-helmet collision with 4:54 left and the Hoosiers trailing 49-17. Wilson said Spriggs had movement in his extremities and would have precautionary X-rays.

Now, with another bye week coming up and the Hoosiers' postseason hopes slipping away, Wilson must come up with a solution.

"You fought against one of the best teams in the country," Wilson said. "He jumped into some deep water. At the same time, we'll see how quick he can grow from that."

PHOTO: Michigan State tight end Josiah Price (82) scores against Indiana safety Antonio Allen (40) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Sam Riche)
Michigan State tight end Josiah Price (82) scores against Indiana safety Antonio Allen (40) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Sam Riche)

Michigan State (6-1, 3-0), meanwhile, got back on track.

Connor Cook threw three touchdown passes, Jeremey Langford ran for three more scores and the defense pitched a second-half shutout.

"We just preached finishing," receiver Tony Lippett said. "Starting fast and finishing strong (was) one thing around the locker room and the training room and the locker room all week — just finish the game."

They did that by scoring the final 35 points, including 21 in the fourth quarter, when the game already was out of reach.

After holding off late rallies against Nebraska and Purdue the past two weeks, the Spartans were impressive Saturday.

Cook went 24 of 32 for 332 yards with one interception. Langford ran for 109 yards and three scores, while Nick Hill finished with 178 yards, including a 76-yard TD run with 1:24 left in the game. Lippett caught seven passes for 123 yards and the offense wound up with 19 plays of 10 or more yards.

And even though the Spartans' usually stout defense allowed a season-high 213 yards rushing, coach Mark Dantonio couldn't quibble with the overall results — six three-and-outs and one turnover en route to closing it out.

"We talked about the fourth-quarter issue," Dantonio said. "To me, it was more about keeping an edge when things started to turn. When there would be adversity how would we react? I thought we reacted extremely well. Two touchdown drives at the end of the second quarter, an 11-point lead and the third quarter sort of went our way."

It was a milestone day for Dantonio, who tied Charlie Bachman for second in school history with his 70th win at Michigan State. He became the fourth coach in school history to reach 100 games and hoisted the Old Brass Spittoon for the sixth time.

The defending Rose Bowl champs have won five straight overall, six straight over the Hoosiers, 13 in a row over Big Ten foes including last year's title game and have tied a school record with eight consecutive road wins in conference play.

Indiana took the lead after Diamont's score, but it didn't last long.

Michigan State answered with Langford's 8-yard TD run and made it 28-17 on Cook's 14-yard TD pass to Macgarrett Kings Jr. The Spartans closed it out with Cook's 4-yard shovel pass to R.J. Shelton for a third-quarter score and the three fourth-quarter scores.

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