Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Before getting to the Green-White game, there was some exciting scheduling news Monday for Michigan State fans.
The school agreed to home-and-home series with both West Virginia (2014-15) and Alabama (2016-17) and extended its contract with longtime rival Notre Dame through the 2025 season. Kudos to athletic director Mark Hollis for making the type of moves most ADs avoid at all costs (pun intended), and giving his fan base some exciting games down the line. Notre Dame no longer provides a guaranteed marquee matchup for Michigan State, so adding these other teams ensures the Spartans will be tested almost every year.
Now back to Saturday's spring game ...
Michigan State's coaches talked all spring about how the competition between sophomore quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol was too close to call. They also expressed no panic or anxiety about having no clear-cut starter right now or for the immediate future.
The spring game showed why, as both Cousins and Nichol threw the ball brilliantly. Nichol and the White team prevailed 38-37 as safety Danny Fortener sealed the win by knocking down a Cousins pass on a two-point conversion attempt.
Both Cousins and Nichol threw for exactly 357 yards and four touchdowns, capitalizing on an improved group of wide receivers/tight ends and a banged-up secondary. Nichol showed impressive mobility and completed 20 of 28 passes, while Cousins maintained his efficiency in the pocket and completed 29 of 43 pass attempts.
"I think you saw why we look at our quarterbacks and say it's too close to call," head coach Mark Dantonio said. "Both guys responded when they were down and made big plays. And both guys had receivers make catches with guys draped all over them."
Nichol threw touchdowns to four different receivers, while Cousins twice found tight end Charlie Gantt for scores.
Other items from the Green-White game:
Whoever wins the quarterback competition will have plenty of capable targets this fall. Senior wide receiver Blair White recorded a game-high six receptions for 89 yards, and fellow wideouts Keshawn Martin, Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham also performed well. The tight ends will be spotlighted this season as Gantt hauled in two touchdown receptions and Clemson transfer Brian Linthicum led the White squad with six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown.
It was a disappointing day for the four running backs vying to replace All-American Javon Ringer. Sophomore Andre Anderson had a game-high 30 rush yards on nine carries, while sophomore Ashton Leggett, who created some separation earlier this spring, finished with just seven yards and a touchdown on eight carries. The competition remains wide open here, and incoming freshmen Edwin Baker and Larry Caper will be in the mix this summer.
Playing without four injured defensive backs, the Spartans' defense had a very disappointing day. Linebackers Greg Jones (10 tackles, 2.5 TFLs) and Eric Gordon (11 tackles, 1 TFL) led their respective teams.
Penalties were a problem for the Spartans, who got flagged 12 times for 117 yards in the scrimmage.