EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Western Michigan was stingy on defense and relatively competitive overall against Michigan State in P.J. Fleck's debut with the Mid-American Conference team.
Fleck, though, was not in a mood to feel good about the Spartans struggling to pull away and settling for a 26-13 win over the Broncos on Friday night.
"Moral victories don't exist in this program," Fleck said.
Jeremy Langford's 2-yard touchdown run late in the first half broke a tie and the Spartans' defense scored two touchdowns and set up a field goal.
Michigan State (1-0) struggled when it had the ball, rotating ineffective quarterback Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook, and didn't rout a team it was expected to beat easily.
"Am I totally happy?" Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio asked. "No, but I'll go home happy with a win."
Western Michigan hired the 32-year-old Fleck in December to replace fired coach Bill Cubit, making him the youngest coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Fleck started his coaching career as a graduate assistant under former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel in 2006 and last year was the wide receivers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I wear a tie because Jim Tressel was a big part of my life," he said. "I didn't wear the sweater vest because I thought that would be too much."
Jairus Jones had two interceptions, the first of which turned into a score with his lateral to Kurtis Drummond, whose 21-yard return was the game's first score midway through the first quarter
The Broncos (0-1) tied the game with 6:14 left in the second quarter, one play after starting quarterback Tyler Van Tubbergen was knocked out the game after being hit by two Spartans on a run.
Fleck said the fifth-year senior "probably" has a concussion.