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Michigan State 45, Purdue 31: Instant Reactions

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Eighth-ranked Michigan State survives yet another poor fourth-quarter performance to come away with 45-31 road win at Purdue.

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Just win, baby!

Survive and advance.

Use whatever cliche you want, but No. 8 Michigan State did what it needed to do to pick up its first road victory of the season while improving to 2-0 in the Big Ten, courtesy of a 45-31 victory over Purdue.

Despite throwing for 298 yards and three scores, Connor Cook didn't exactly light the world on fire on times for the second straight week, something that bears watching and could bear some worry going forward.

Cook's tendency to throw several balls up for grabs during the course of a game showed up again, evidenced by the horrible interception he threw with the Spartans up 38-17 and driving for another score.

Cook's interception that fell into the hands of Frankie Williams, which preceded Akeem Hunt's 52-yard TD run that got Purdue to within 38-24 early in the fourth quarter, is a mistake that can't happen going forward.

Cook's God-given talents, not to mention Tony Lippett's 138 receiving yards, helped the Spartans get out to leads of 21-3 and 38-17, but his boneheadedness that pops up a couple times a game has to stop if the Spartans want to repeat as Big Ten champions and possibly even into the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Meanwhile, Mark Dantonio's decision to go for a fake punt while deep in Spartan territory and holding a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter was pure bonehead.

Not sure what was worse: The call itself or the fact Dantonio called for Lawrence Thomas to run the fake, a failed miscue that set up the Boilermakers quite nicely and led to another Boiler TD to cut the lead to 38-31.

While the defense definitely looked better in the second half after allowing Purdue score 14 second-quarter points to help turn a 21-3 Michigan State lead into a 24-17 Michigan State lead at halftime, the gaps and holes that pop up periodically in the run game have to stop.

As much credit as Pat Narduzzi's unit deserves for holding Nebraska star running back Ameer Abdullah to 45 yards on 24 carries last Saturday night, the Boilermakers gashed the Spartans' run defense at times, highlighted by Hunt's 52-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Hunt ran for 96 yards and three touchdown to help pace a Purdue offensive attack that churned out 129 yards on the ground, a total that was aided by Narduzzi's charges limiting Purdue QB Austin Appleby to -20 yards rushing, while accumulating 340 total yards.

In a message that I conveyed last week, perhaps it's a good thing Dantonio and Narduzzi will have all the ammo they want to throw at their team.

This is a very good Michigan State team. Whether it will turn into a great Michigan State team remains to be seen.

We'll all find out soon enough over the next four weeks.