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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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    Michigan State football flattens Northwestern, 38-21

    EVANSTON, Ill. — It began with the answer to Michigan State football’s months-long quarterback question. And Payton Thorne quickly became a secondary story.

    Kenneth Walker III delivered exactly what Connor Heyward predicted a month ago: “Home run. Every time he touches the ball.”

    At least the first time, as Walker took a handoff from Thorne and ran 75 yards on the first play from scrimmage to set the tone immediately Friday night. His 264 yards on 23 carries and four scores revived a years-dormant run game, and Thorne played the game manager role effectively in leading the Spartans to  a 38-21 victory over Northwestern.

    The Spartans host Youngstown State next Saturday (noon/Big Ten Network).

    Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III runs for a touchdown past Northwestern safety Brandon Joseph during the first half on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in Evanston, Illinois.

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    Running Walker

    Going into the season, it had been 701 minutes and 24 seconds of football played since an MSU running back scored a touchdown on the ground, a span of nearly 11 1/2 games since Elijah Collins’ second TD of the game against Illinois in 2019.

    It took Walker 13 seconds to change that.

    The 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior running back showed his knack for finding the end zone he showed at Wake Forest, where his 17 career rushing touchdowns were more than the Spartans got from all of their running backs since 2018. MSU managed just seven in 2018, nine in 2019 and none last season.

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