Nichol starts for Spartans, leads TD drive

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Sophomore quarterback Keith Nichol made his first career start for Michigan State today against Illinois, replacing classmate Kirk Cousins, who is still bothered by a right ankle injury.

Cousins, who participated in pregame warmups, is still expected to play against the Illini, but Nichol led a 7-play, 60-yard touchdown drive to open the game. Glenn Winston set up the drive with a nice kickoff return and finished it off with a 2-yard scoring plunge. Nichol also connected with Mark Dell for a 23-yard completion, a good sign given Dell's absence in the offense lately.

Not much fight from a desperate Illini team early on at Memorial Stadium.