Triple-digit temperatures? No problem. Finding success in the red zone? A little more of an issue for No. 15 Michigan State as they held a slim 3-0 lead over Arizona State in Tempe at halftime.
Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke was able to move the ball at times and finished with 121 yards on 11-of-16 passing but threw an interception off a tipped pass in the end zone to otherwise mar a solid half. Running the ball was another thing for MSU as the team averaged just 3.9 yards a carry and saw both Connor Heyward and LJ Scott held in check.
A lot of that had to do with the Sun Devils defense looking quite fast and physical against the visitors from the North. Khaylan Thomas was quite active with four tackles while Dasmond Tautalatasi came up with the interception.
Their effort really kept ASU in the game as the offense showed plenty of flashes but shot themselves in the foot in critical points during the half. Manny Wilkins finished with 159 yards and a pick through the air and was also the team’s leading rusher. Star receiver N'Keal Harry was also fairly quiet with just three catches for 37 yards but did find a few gaps in the Spartans’ coverage.
Needless to say, those expecting a shootout in this one were mistaken — at least for a half. We’ll see if things pick up after the break in this very intriguing matchup between the Pac-12 and Big Ten late into the night.