By Dana Gauruder, The Sports Xchange
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State didn't need a miracle for the second straight week. Connor Cook's rifle arm was all the Spartans required to remain undefeated.
Cook threw for a career-high 398 yards and tied a career best with four touchdown passes to lead No. 7 Michigan State to a 52-26 win over Indiana on Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
The senior quarterback came up two yards shy of the school record while completing 30 of 52 passes for the Spartans (8-0, 4-0 Big Ten), who were coming off their miraculous last-play victory over archrival Michigan. Bill Burke holds the record with 400 passing yards against the Wolverines in 1999.
The Spartans didn't pass in their final two possessions while wrapping up the win. That turned Cook into a comedian afterward.
"(Backup quarterback) Tommy Vento told me about it on the sideline and I was heated, I was mad. I was like, 'I want to get that record so bad,'" Cook said with a grin. "I was begging, please call a hitch route or something! No, I didn't say that. I don't care. As long as we win, I can throw for 15 yards and I'll be happy."
Coach Mark Dantonio is happy he can rely on Cook, who is considered one of the top quarterback prospects for the next NFL Draft.
"He's a gamer. He's able to put the ball on the money," he said. "He's got that X-factor. When something goes wrong, he's able to bounce back and make the throws."
Dantonio was also pleased his team didn't have too big of a hangover following their improbable victory at Ann Arbor.
"We've been saying this all week, and one of the things we point toward is 'How do we play after a big moment?'" he said. "We make a big deal of that. We have since 2008. It wasn't pretty at certain points during this game but we've been very successful after those games."
Spartans junior wide receiver R.J. Shelton caught six passes for 76 yards and two scores, and senior Aaron Burbridge hauled in eight passes for 128 yards and a touchdown.
"They make me look a whole lot better than I am," Cook said of his receivers. "Those are hard, contested catches they're making."
Michigan State scored 24 straight points in the fourth quarter to notch its 12th straight victory, the longest in Dantonio's tenure and tied for the third longest in school history.
Senior Nate Sudfeld passed for 308 yards and three touchdowns for Indiana (4-4, 0-4), which has lost four straight. Junior running back Jordan Howard, who missed the previous two games with an ankle injury, had 78 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Indiana suffered a seven-point defeat to No. 1 Ohio State and a three-point loss to Rutgers during the streak.
"At the end, the dam finally broke," coach Kevin Wilson said. "I was disappointed the way it looked with the two late (touchdown) runs. It makes it look worse than it was. We're not into moral victories but we're going toe-to-toe with some pretty good teams. We need to learn to finish close games."
The Spartans led 28-26 entering the fourth quarter, as both quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass early in the third. Indiana had a chance to take the lead late in the quarter, but sophomore Griffin Oaks missed a 42-yard field goal try.
Michael Geiger's 21-yard field goal with 12:44 remaining made it 31-26. Cook's fourth scoring pass, a 10-yarder to Shelton with 4:57 left, extended the lead to 12 points.
Freshman LJ Scott's 26-yard run and sophomore Gerald Holmes' 22-yard scamper completed the scoring.
"Our defense wears out because they don't get third-down stops," Wilson said. "That's two games in a row."
Michigan State clung to a 21-20 lead at halftime, with the difference being a missed extra-point try after Indiana's second touchdown.
NOTES: Indiana QB Nate Sudfeld tied the school record of 48 career touchdown passes held by Kellen Lewis (2006-08). ... Ankle injuries sidelined two notable Spartans -- redshirt freshman RB Madre London and senior C Jack Allen. ... Michigan State has now won 15 of the last 17 meetings, including seven straight. Indiana's last victory in East Lansing was a 37-28 triumph in 2001. ... Michigan State's Connor Cook has 31 career victories, the most for an active FBS quarterback. ... Both teams have a bye next weekend.