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Michigan State Spartans grind out 38-17 upset win at No. 24 Miami, Florida

Miami defensive lineman Chantz Williams, right, sacks Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne during the first quarter Saturday in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP photo)

By TIM REYNOLDS

AP Sports Writer

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Michigan State spent the week preparing for a fight. That was the analogy that the Spartans used all week, telling each other that their game at Miami would be a grind-it-out bout decided in the later rounds.

Sure enough, it happened.

And the Spartans were the ones throwing the knockout punch.

Payton Thorne passed for 261 yards and four touchdowns, two of those scoring throws going to Jalen Nailor, and MSU extended its unbeaten start by topping No. 24 Miami 38-17 on Saturday. The Spartans outscored Miami 21-3 in the fourth quarter to pull away in near-100 degree heat.

Kenneth Walker III rushed for 172 yards and caught a touchdown pass for the Spartans (3-0), who are off to their best start since 2015.

Jayden Reed also had a scoring catch and a TD run for MSU, which forced four turnovers.

D’Eriq King was 38 of 59 passing — both of them Miami school records — for 388 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also fumbled the ball away once and lost another on a strip-sack in the fourth quarter, plus was shaken up at least twice and needed to leave the field once for evaluation.

King, who rehabbed a torn ACL throughout the offseason and didn’t miss a game, said he would get his shoulder examined, but insisted it was “not too bad.”

Thorne didn’t need long to take control, coming up big with his legs as well on what became the game-sealing drive.

He got 22 yards up the middle on third-and-6 and then fell forward barely far enough — maybe by a chain link, two at the most — on fourth-and-1 with 4:25 left to extend the series.

The effort was worthwhile and one play later, Thorne had Miami fans leaving for the exits in droves. He found a wide-open Nailor for an easy 39-yard score that made it 31-17 and ensured MSU would finally beat the Hurricanes for the first time in five tries.