Brian Lewerke threw three touchdown passes, two during a 21-point second quarter, as Michigan State defeated Washington State, 42-17, Thursday evening in the 40th annual Holiday Bowl at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium.
The Cougars played without record-setting quarterback Luke Falk, who missed the game because of an injury to his left (non-throwing) wrist.
Falk was in uniform for pre-game warmups, then changed into sweats when the team took to the field for the game.
Sophomore Tyler Hilinski started in place of Falk, completing 39 of 50 passes for 272 yards and two second-half touchdowns, both to Tay Martin, in his first college start.
The Spartans (10-3) scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions in the second and third quarters as Mark Dantonio won his 100th game in his 11th season as their coach.
Lewerke completed 13 of 21 passes for 213 yards and was selected as the offensive MVP. Michigan State linebacker Chris Frey was selected as the defensive MVP, making a team-high equaling six tackles.
The Spartans outgained Washington State, 440 yards to 296 and led 25- 17 in first downs and 36:42-23:18 in time of possession. They entered the game second among Football Bowl Subdision School in time of possession, averaging 35 minutes, 12 seconds per game.
Lewerke threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Cody White and a 49-yard pass to Felton Davis in the second quarter before a crowd announced at 47,092.
Michigan State increased its lead to 21-3 29 seconds before halftime on L.J. Scott’s 3-yard run.
The Spartans drove 67 yards on 10 plays on the opening possession of the second half, with Lewerke throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to White.
Damion Terry ran six yards for a touchdown for Michigan State seven plays after Chris Frey recovered a fumble by Hilinski at the Washington State 27-yard line.
Hilinski threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Martin in the third quarter and a 15-yard touchdown pass to Martin in the fourth quarter.
Spartans junior L.J. Scott ran 28 yards with 6:14 left for the game’s final touchdown.
The Cougars (9-4) opened the scoring on Erik Powell’s 45-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Falk entered the game second among FBS quarterbacks with 357 completions, 11 less than Mike White of Western Kentucky, which earlier finished its season. Falk was also second behind White in passes thrown with 534, 26 less than White.
Falk is the Pac-12 Conference career record holder in completions (1,404), passing yards (14,486), touchdown passes (119), total offense (14,086) and passes (2,055).
Washington State was making its second consecutive appearance in the Holiday Bowl and fourth overall. The Cougars lost to Minnesota, 17-12, in 2016 and to Brigham Young, 38-36 in the 1981 game, in a game it trailed 31-7 early in the second half.
Washington State’s lone Holiday Bowl victory came in 2003 when it defeated Texas, 28-20.
Michigan State made its first Holiday Bowl appearance and first appearance in California since the 2014 Rose Bowl Game when it defeated Stanford, 24-20.
The Holiday Bowl has annually matched teams from the Pac-12 and Big Ten Conference since 2014.
This was the first meeting between the teams since 1977. The Spartans increased their lead in the series to 6-2.
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