Dantonio wins debut as Michigan State beats UAB, 55-18
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP)—Jehuu Caulcrick ran for 93 yards and a career-high four touchdowns Saturday as Michigan State rolled past Alabama-Birmingham, 55-18, giving Mark Dantonio a win in his debut as Spartan coach.
The lopsided score ruined the debut of new UAB coach Neil Callaway, a former Georgia assistant.
Michigan State (1-0) and Dantonio, a former Cincinnati head coach, wasted no time unveiling an offense that is more run-oriented and physical than the system used under former coach John L. Smith. The Spartans rolled up 593 yards of offense.
The first play from scrimmage was a pass to Andrew Hawken—a fullback, a position that didn’t exist in Michigan State’s previous system. The Spartans then used five straight running plays to highlight a 65-yard scoring drive, capped by Caulcrick’s 1-yard touchdown plunge, to take a 7-0 lead over the Blazers (0-1).
Caulcrick scored three more TDs in the first half on runs of 5, 42 and 5 yards as Michigan State built a 42-0 lead. It was 45-3 at halftime after teams traded field goals.
Caulcrick’s four rushing TDs were tied for second-most in school history in one game. Blake Ezor had six rushing TDs against Northwestern in 1989.
Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer completed 14 of 17 passes for 201 yards and also had a 44-yard touchdown pass to Devin Thomas. He finished Michigan State played two backup quarterbacks. Thomas had 106 receiving yards on 5 catches.
Michigan State’s defense, among the nation’s worst the past few seasons, had little trouble with a UAB offense struggling with an inexperienced line. The Blazers had 226 yards of offense.
Blazer quarterback Sam Hunt completed 21 of 39 passes for 214 yards, including a fourth-quarter TD pass to Joseph Webb and an interception.
UAB had only 67 scholarship players on Saturday, 18 under the NCAA limit.
A member of Conference USA, the Blazers were facing a Big Ten opponent for the first time in its 12 seasons playing in the NCAA’s top division, now the Football Bowl Subdivision. UAB has lost three straight season openers.
Michigan State has won three straight season openers. Dantonio became the fourth consecutive Spartan head coach to win his debut. The last Michigan State coach to lose his first game was Nick Saban in 1995, a 50-10 loss to Nebraska.