EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Freshman Le'Veon Bell rushed for 141 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns to spark Michigan State past Western Michigan 38-14 in a season-opening game Saturday.
Bell's 75-yard run was the key play in a scoring drive that gave the Spartans a 21-7 lead in the second quarter. He followed it up with touchdown runs of 2 yards in the second quarter and 18 yards in the third quarter to put Michigan State ahead 35-7.
Bell became the first true freshman in Michigan State history to rush for 100 yards or more in his debut game.
The Spartans were sluggish early, but the Reynoldsburg, Ohio, native gave them a spark off the bench spelling starter Edwin Baker.
Baker finished with 117 yards and two TDs on 17 carries.
Running back Larry Caper, nursing an injured right hand, did not play for Michigan State. He could have played if needed, but the Spartans were fine without him against outmatched Western Michigan.
Alex Carder, making his first start at quarterback for Western Michigan, completed 27 of 49 passes for 220 yards with two touchdown and an interception.
Kirk Cousins completed 13 of 21 passes for 186 yards a touchdown for Michigan State.
Cousins connected with receiver Keith Nichol, a converted quarterback, on a 20-yard TD pass to give the Spartans a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. The 31-yard scoring drive was set up when Michigan State's Denicos Allen recovered a fumbled shotgun snap.
Western Michigan tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter on a 1-yard touchdown pass from Carder to Juan Nunez. The scoring drive was set up when Michigan State's Keshawn Martin muffed a bouncing punt, recovered by Western's Kyle Lark at the Michigan State 19-yard line.
Carder's 2-yard TD pass to Blake Hammond cut the Michigan State lead to 35-14 midway through the third quarter.
Michigan State has beaten Western Michigan eight straight times, including a 49-14 victory last season. Western Michigan's last win in the series came in 1919.
Michigan State, a member of the Big Ten, has a 39-7-2 record against current members of the Mid-American Conference. The Spartans lost to a MAC team, Central Michigan, last season.
Michigan State is 3-1 in season openers under coach Mark Dantonio.