Western Michigan (0-0) at Michigan State (0-0) (8:00 p.m. ET, on BTN)
Line: Michigan State -28 (Bovada)
Last Meeting: 2010 (Michigan State 38-14)
3 Players to Watch:
1) Andrew Maxwell (QB, MSU):Well he won the opportunity to start this game, but it looks like Connor Cook will be playing at some point as well. If I am Andrew, I am looking to really put on a show tonight. If he goes out there and starts 7-10 with a touchdown, there is a chance (maybe slight) that he will play the entire game. I have a feeling that coach Dantonio “wants” Andrew at QB, and what coach wouldn’t want the experienced player who knows the entire playbook? Will the offensive line hold up and will wide outs hold onto the ball, or will Andrew have to fight drops again this year? If he wants to keep this job, he better start off strong, he cannot start the year off with a three-interception game like he did a year ago.
2) Jeremy Langford (HB, MSU):Gone is Le’Veon Bell, who was also known as Michigan States offense a year ago. Langford and Bell are completely different players, Bell lives for contact while prior to this year Langford has avoided contact. He has admitted to juking around too often in the backfield in hopes of breaking a huge run, but has realized that he should run hard and those breaks will come. This is a player with supposed 4.3 speed, he can be electrifying. If Jeremy can stick to his words and run hard, he may put on quite the show tonight.
3) Kevin Muma (K, MSU):The senior was just named starting placekicker over true freshman and the number one incoming kicker in the nation Michael Geiger. Muma lost a competition a few years ago to former starter Dan Conroy, but looks to make sure the kicking game is better this year than it was last year. Conroy went 23 of 32, missing nine kicks and frustrating Spartan fans everywhere. Will Muma be able to kick well enough for head coach Mark Dantonio to redshirt Geiger, or is this a short-term thing? The answer to that question should become quite a bit more clear after tonight.
Michigan State is coming off of a disappointing 2012/13 campaign that ended with them finishing just over .500 at 7-6. They return players across the depth chart and could be in store for a huge 2013. Western Michigan on the other hand was worse off at 4-8, but have a new coach in P.J. Fleck. Fleck has been an assistant in both the NFL and NCAA with stops to Rutgers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Good news for Western is that Tyler Van Tubbergen returns for his senior year, after having a pretty good year in 2012. In his first year starting Tyler threw for 1,825 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Unfortunately he will be facing another top 10 defense for Michigan State. The Spartans may have the best line-backing core in the nation and they will look to impress under the lights.
It will be interesting to see a few battles play out through the night. I would keep your eyes on the Tight Ends, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Cornerbacks and of course the Quarterbacks. What players will step up and whose name will we be talking about on Saturday morning? That’s the exciting part; let’s enjoy some football people!
My pick: Michigan State 38, Western Michigan 16