Michigan State dominates Washington State in Holiday Bowl

Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke throws during the first half of the Holiday Bowl NCAA college football game against Washington State on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

The Holiday Bowl did not go too well for Washington State.

The Cougars were out to an early 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and, well, that’s about as good as it got. Michigan State reeled off 35-straight points on the way to a comfortable 42-17 win.

Here’s how good it was for the Spartans. MSU’s second touchdown of the night, a 49-yard pass to wide receiver Felton Davis from quarterback Brian Lewerke, was just the second touchdown of over 40 yards the team had all season.

And the Spartans’ fourth touchdown came when Lewerke rolled to his left to avoid Wazzu defenders and his pass was tipped up into the air … and into the hands of wide receiver Cody White for a 10-yard score.

Washington State played without starting quarterback Luke Falk, who had been dealing with a secretive left wrist injury in the buildup to the game. Wazzu coach Mike Leach was dismissive of any questions regarding Falk’s health before the game but the senior quarterback was in street clothes on the sidelines after warmups.

That meant backup quarterback Tyler Hilinski was making his first career start. Hilinski was dealing with a depleted receiving corps thanks to the dismissal of leading receiver Tavares Martin and the transfer of second-leading receiver Isaiah Johnson-Mack.

Hilinski completed a high percentage of passes, but they didn’t go very far. He finished 39-50 for 272 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

And while Washington State couldn’t throw the ball downfield, the run game was nonexistent, even by Leach’s standards. The Cougars had eight carries for 24 yards.

Lewerke was the star, completing 13-21 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns and also rushing for 73 yards. It was Lewerke’s second-highest rushing output of the season and just the seventh time he’s thrown for over 200 yards in a game in 2017.

The win means Michigan State finishes the season 10-3 and completes an impressive turnaround from 2016. Fresh off a College Football Playoff appearance in 2015, Michigan State with 9-3 a year ago.

It also means Washington State finishes the season at 9-4 and ends the season with two losses. After starting 6-0, the Cougars went 3-4 over the second half of the season.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!