After a surprising 11-2 season, culminating in a Peach Bowl victory, Michigan State are kicking off the season as heavy home favorites. They’ll face in-state neighbors Western Michigan, who themselves capped off an up-and-down season in a stunningly balanced MAC West division with a dominating bowl win.
Let’s check out the odds and discuss some picks for Friday night’s matchup
Western Michigan Vs. Michigan State Odds
Michigan State is currently sitting as anything between a 22 to 24 point favorite, varying from sportsbook to sportsbook. Meanwhile, the scoring total is set right around the 54.5 point mark. Are the powers that be underestimating the Broncos, or will Sparty cruise to a comfortable four-score victory?
Western Michigan Vs. Michigan State Prediction & Pick
A year ago, both of these teams were regularly involved in high-scoring affairs, as both averaged over 31 points per game, and allowed over 25 points per game, albeit against drastically different competition.
The nature of this game could well come down to the simple matter of experience versus lack thereof. The Spartans return 51% of their QB pressures on defense, and 75% of their passes defended- it would be reasonable to expect a step up from the MSU defense this season, and that could start right on opening day. Meanwhile, the WMU offense that this seasoned defense will be attacking is anything but veteran, as the QB position is a total wild card, and the offensive line returns a shocking 22% of their snaps from a year ago. They also will sorely miss wideout Skyy Moore, who was an absolute force for last year’s Broncos, but will now be tearing it up in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs
The biggest loss for Sparty is superstar halfback Kenneth Walker III, the focal point of their offense a year ago. MSU will hope to fill the void left by Walker with a pair of transfer RBs; former Colorado Buffalo Jarek Broussard, and Wisco departure Jalen Berger. State will also hope for a step up for returning QB Payton Thorne, who had an efficient but unspectacular first year at the helm last season.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a relatively wide range of spreads being offered for this game, so as always, you’d be wise to find the most favorable one; that being said, I’d take MSU to cover essentially any of the numbers that are out there right now (up to about -24). As for the total, I see both teams as having a lot to replace on offense, and MSU offering a lot of upside on defense; I would pick the under for this matchup, given the total of 54.5
Prediction: MSU to cover -22.5, u54.5
Western Michigan Vs. Michigan State Key Matchups
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Western Michigan vs Michigan State below.
Western Michigan Offensive Line vs. MSU Front Seven
Both of these key matchups center around one of the most constant challenges in the revolving door of roster construction that is college football; breaking in a brand new, inexperienced quarterback. One of the top priorities in this pursuit is protecting that new quarterback, and that task will fall to a similarly inexperienced offensive line. The two returning O-Line starters, both guards, Jacob Gideon and redshirt senior Dylan Deatherage, will be trusted to anchor a group of new starters who might very well struggle. This could especially be the case against that experienced MSU front seven, who will be led bu Junior end Jeff Pietrowski. If Western’s new-look line falls apart against a Big Ten pass rush, it’s hard to see how the offense will put together really any drives at all
Western Michigan Wide Receivers vs. MSU Secondary
Similarly, with a new quarterback stepping in to fill the big shoes of Kaleb Eleby, his Wide Receivers will have to do their part in creating separation and making his job easier. Unfortunately, the pass catching corps is also dealing with possibly an even bigger loss in Skyy Moore. Western will attempt to replace his production with upperclassmen Jaylen Hall and Corey Crooms who both put up nice numbers last year, albeit with Moore drawing top DB attention, and the ball being thrown by a more veteran QB. That returning wideout duo and the rest of the Broncos skill group will have to contend with what should be an extremely strong MSU secondary. They return the core group of what was already a solid group last year, and will be further bolstered by the addition of Georgia transfer CB Ameer Speed. Western Michigan have the potential to have some solid pass catchers this season, but I’m not sure they’re going to succeed in this week-one trial by fire against a much stronger secondary than they’ll be seeing on a weekly basis for most of the year. While it should certainly be a good primer, this game could feel laborious at times for the Broncos offense.
ICYMI: Fresh off a national championship with Georgia, Ameer Speed (@OG__speed) is ready to bring MSU’s secondary back to a ‘No Fly Zone.’
Biked around with Speed for the first @msufcu Coaches Show of the season ⤵️
— Ian Kress (@ian_kress) August 28, 2022
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