Bell tramples Broncos, lifts Spartans to 17-13 win
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Le'Veon Bell spent the last couple seasons splitting carries in the Michigan State backfield.
Now he's unquestionably the team's top running threat — and, boy, has that changed his workload.
Bell ran for a career-high 210 yards on 44 carries Friday night, helping No. 13 Michigan State outlast No. 24 Boise State 17-13. The junior's second touchdown of the night — a 5-yard run with 8:12 remaining — helped the Spartans avoid an upset on a night Bell outgained the Broncos all by himself.
"The offensive line in the huddle, they were ready to run the ball," Bell said. "That is something the linemen love doing, that's something I love doing, of course. We just want to get over the hump and keep moving forward."
After Bell's touchdown put the Spartans ahead, the Broncos drove to the Michigan State 42, but Joe Southwick's pass on fourth-and-2 was broken up.
The Spartans (1-0) then ran off the final 6:32.
Boise State (0-1) was sluggish in its first game after losing standouts Kellen Moore and Doug Martin from last season's explosive offense. The Broncos' only touchdown came on Jeremy Ioane's 43-yard interception return in the second quarter.
"We wanted to come out and play fast and physical and I think we did that," Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough said. "I think that it was a good game to start with and I think we proved ourselves."
Bell became Michigan State's undisputed top running back when Edwin Baker left to enter the NFL draft after last season. His 44 carries Friday more than doubled his previous career high of 20, and he also set career marks with six receptions for 55 yards.
"A number of times he made something out of nothing," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said. "You can't underestimate — 44 touches, and not fumbling the ball, and not coming close to fumbling it. He had some huge plays out there."
The Spartans outgained Boise State 461 yards to 206 but turned the ball over four times.
The Broncos had won six straight against BCS-conference teams.
"We've got to do better in the red zone and we've got to be able to run the ball better," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "If we do those two things, we'll be OK on offense."
Michigan State leaned on Bell, especially after new starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell threw three first-half interceptions. Maxwell finished 22 of 38 for 248 yards.
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