Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Danny Etling (5) is sacked by Michigan State Spartans safety RJ Williamson (26) during the 1st quarter at Spartan Stadium. (Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports)
EAST LANSING (DETROIT FREE PRESS) - Back in 2010, Michigan State's last Big Ten championship team got an unexpected home scare from a bad Purdue team before coming back late to prevail, 35-31.
This wasn't quite as scary and may not mean nearly as much, but the Spartans again had to escape a lowly Boilermakers team at Spartan Stadium to keep title hopes alive. MSU got a touchdown from its defense and one from its offense in a 14-0 win today - the Spartans' first shutout since a 44-0 rout of Florida Atlantic on Sept. 10, 2011.
It's the first shutout of a Big Ten team since a 40-0 win over Northwestern on Nov. 13, 1999.
MSU improves to 6-1, 3-0 Big Ten, and is bowl-eligible after not reaching that mark until the final regular-season game in 2012. Purdue falls to 1-6, 0-3.
Jeremy Langford ran for a career-high 131 yards on 24 carries while Connor Cook recovered from accuracy issues to complete 13 of 25 passes for 107 yards.
It was 7-0 until Tony Lippett hit Andrew Gleichert on a trick play for a 5-yard touchdown pass with 8:55 left in the game. That drive marked the first advance for either team into the red zone.
It was a sleepy and somber Spartan Stadium early, and Purdue took advantage by running right at the MSU defense. The crowd and the MSU sideline finally showed some life when Isaiah Lewis made a terrific play to pick off Danny Etling in the back of the end zone - just getting a foot down inbounds.
But MSU's passing game was not there to help a productive rushing attack move the chains and it was scoreless after a quarter. Early in the second, Etling got going and Purdue moved into MSU territory.
That's when Max Bullough blitzed on third-and-6 from the MSU 44. He blasted Etling before his arm could move forward, the ball popped loose, Denicos Allen picked it up and cruised for a 45-yard touchdown with 10:17 left in the second quarter.
And that's where it stood. And stood and stood and stood, all the way until midway through the fourth quarter. Cook, off the mark for most of the day, hit Lippett for 17 yards. On third-and-11, he found a wide-open Macgarrett Kings Jr. for 25.
A tight end screen to Josiah Price went for 26. And then a trick play got MSU six points in the first red-zone trip for either team.
Cook ran left, flipped to Lippett going right, and he lobbed to a wide-open Gleichert to make it 14-0 Spartans with 8:55 left. The nine-play, 73-yard drive was by far MSU's best offensive sequence of the day, and enough to put the Boilers away.
Contact Joe Rexrode: firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter @joerexrode. Check out his MSU blog at freep.com/heyjoe.