EAST LANSING, Michigan — Even with Michigan State's star quarterback out of the game, Maryland never mounted much of a challenge.
Connor Cook left at halftime with an apparent shoulder problem, but the 14th-ranked Spartans shut down the Terrapins for a 24-7 victory on Saturday. The turnover-prone Terps have lost seven in a row.
"We go into each week thinking this is the one we get," quarterback Perry Hills said. "We have a great game plan and the coaches do a very good job of getting us prepared and everything. It hurts. It really does."
The Spartans (9-1, 5-1 Big Ten) have been dealing with injuries all season, particularly on the offensive line and in the secondary. Cook got hurt in the first quarter, and although he came back in the game for a bit, backup Tyler O'Connor played the second half.
Maryland (2-8, 0-6) couldn't take advantage of Cook's absence. The Terrapins turned the ball over five times.
"We win and lose as a team. As I've told the defense, they've really given us opportunities to be in games against some really, really good teams the last few weeks," Maryland interim coach Mike Locksley said. "They'll keep doing that for the rest of the season and now I've got to get the offense going and the kicking game going to hold up to their end of the bargain."
Cook was only 6 of 20 for 77 yards with an interception. O'Connor finished the game 6 of 11 for 44 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Maryland's passing game wasn't any better. The Terrapins came into the week having thrown the most interceptions (25) in Division I, and they added three to that total against Michigan State, which is 13th in the CFP ranking. Hills was 14 of 30 for 140 yards with an interception, and Caleb Rowe had two of his five attempts picked off.
O'Connor actually played a bit before Cook's injury, throwing a 10-yard touchdown pass to Macgarrett Kings to open the scoring. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio wanted to get the backup quarterback some work with the regular season winding down, although he didn't tell O'Connor beforehand.
"I was about as caught off guard as you guys were," O'Connor said. "Maybe it was a trial version just to make sure I'd be ready in case that were to happen."
Moments later, O'Connor indeed had to go back in on short notice. Maryland tied it at 7 on a 1-yard scoring run by Brandon Ross, and then Cook left during Michigan State's next series with his right arm dangling by his side — he had been knocked down by Maryland's Jesse Aniebonam while throwing a pass.
Cook began throwing a bit on the sideline and was back in the game on the Spartans' next possession, but the senior wasn't particularly effective for the rest of the half.
Almost the entire second quarter was played in Maryland territory, but Michigan State didn't take the lead back until Riley Bullough scored on a 44-yard interception return with 2:07 left in the half. After another interception, the Spartans kicked a field goal to go into the locker room up 17-7.
Gerald Holmes scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter for Michigan State.
Yannick Ngakoue had 1 1/2 sacks for Maryland, bringing his season total to 12 1/2. The school's season record is 13 by Mark Duda in 1982 and Bruce Palmer in 1978.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org