Stanton, Spartans survive scare, slip past Idaho

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Drew Stanton threw for 225 yards and

a touchdown Saturday to lead Michigan State to a 27-17 win over

Idaho and new coach Dennis Erickson.

The game was a reunion for Erickson and Michigan State coach

John L. Smith, who coached together with three different programs --

including Idaho -- in the 1980s.

Smith's Spartans (1-0) survived against Erickson's Vandals (0-1)

in the non-conference season opener, largely because of Stanton's

mistake-free football. The senior quarterback completed 16 of 25

passes and rushed for 55 yards on eight carries.

Idaho, a member of Western Athletic Conference, cut Michigan

State's lead to 24-17 with 9:51 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Vandal quarterback Steven Wichman connected with receiver Lee Smith

on a 13-yard touchdown pass, capping an 81-yard drive.

Michigan State responded by driving deep into Idaho territory.

But the Vandals defense stopped Michigan State's Javon Ringer on

fourth-and-1 at the Idaho 25.

That gave Idaho the ball with 5:40 remaining, but the Vandals

couldn't generate any offense on their next possession.

Michigan State was nearly able to run out the clock on its final

possession, capping a 75-yard drive with a 23-yard field goal by

Brett Swenson.

Stanton completed passes to six different Spartans, including a

27-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Reed in the first quarter.

Jayson Bird led Idaho with 88 yards and a TD on 20 carries.

Wichman completed 17 of 31 passes for 155 yards, a touchdown and an

interception.

Michigan State led 17-3 at halftime.

Erickson is in his second stint as Idaho's coach. He went 32-15

with the Vandals from 1982-85.

Smith served as Erickson's defensive coordinator and assistant

head coach at Idaho. They later coached together at Wyoming and

Washington State, and they remain close friends.

When Erickson moved to Miami in 1989 -- on his way to winning two

national championships in six years -- Smith returned to Idaho for

his first head coaching job, compiling a 53-21 record in six

seasons.

Erickson, who most recently coached the San Francisco 49ers in

2003 and 2004, was out of coaching last season. He returned to

Idaho in February, replacing Nick Holt, now an assistant at

Southern Cal.

Idaho was a successful Division I-AA program when Erickson and

Smith first coached there. Now it's a struggling I-A program. The

Vandals haven't had a winning season since 1999 and were 11-47 in

the last five seasons, including a 2-9 mark last year.