Let’s take a look at the odds this Week 1 showdown between Central Michigan and Michigan St, where my prediction is for Central to come out strong and cover the spread of 14.5 points. With both Michigan State and Central Michigan failing to build on a strong 2021 season and putting in disappointing performances a year ago, these two Great Lakes State squads are looking to bounce back this season, and a win in Week 1 could go a long way.
Central Michigan Vs. Michigan State Prediction & Pick
There was a lot of optimism for Michigan State heading into last season. Coach Mel Tucker had just signed a huge extension, QB Payton Thorne was coming off of a strong first season as a starter, and the team had just capped off an 11-2 season with a Peach Bowl victory.
Paired with a massive win over hated rivals Michigan in a matchup of top-8 undefeateds, the Spartans were feeling as good as they have at any point since just about the Connor Cook era. But everything went South in 2022, as the Spartans went 5-7 without winning a single Big Ten game by more than a possession, as they even scraped by Rutgers by a score of 27-21.
Even Thorne himself went South, in a much more literal sense; this year, he’ll be starting for the Auburn Tigers, who are in rough shape themselves, a serious indictment on the state of State.
Central are in a pretty similar decision, although Chippewas coach Jim McElwain is in a less precarious position than Tucker, considering he’s already secured a couple of winning seasons and a bowl victory just a few years after inheriting a 1-11 squad.
Even so, he’s going to want more than the 4-8 record from last season that saw the Chips finish near the bottom of the MAC. Central is experiencing a lot of roster turnover this year, especially on offense, although it’s hard to complain about a change in personnel when the last group had such poor results.
As is the case with State, the quarterback is going to be a new starting situation, although it’s a bit less clear who will be the guy, or even if there will necessarily be a full time QB1. Jase Bauer is listed as first on the depth chart, but Bert Emanuel Jr. also saw some time last year.
Both of these guys are great rushers, especially Emanuel who ran for nearly 500 yards and 7 touchdowns last year in just 4 games, and were used as change of pace players to contrast pocket passer Daniel Richardson. With some combination of them presumably getting all of the snaps this year, we could see a very different offense in Mount Pleasant.
Obviously, 14.5 is an extremely significant number, as it forces the Spartans to win by more than two touchdowns in order to cover. Personally, I don’t see that happening. This team is going through a lot of change, and isn’t going to be in the business of really shutting the door on teams, even mediocre MAC squads, this early in the season.
As far as the total, all of the change in both offenses could ultimately be a positive, but it’s a lot to incorporate in week 1, especially for the Chips who will be on the road and moving into a new system. Central also had a sneaky-solid defense last year, and factoring that into a game that could be defined by the ground game and long possessions, the under has to be the play here.
Central Michigan Vs. Michigan State Odds
MSU is favored by 14.5 points on the spread, while the total is set at 45.5, with -110 odds for both the over and under.
Central Michigan Vs. Michigan State Key Matchups
Will Central Michigan’s front seven be able to impose themselves against this MSU O-Line? Similarly, how will CMU’s run game hold up? Check out the key matchups and mismatches that could decide who will win and cover on Friday night.
Michigan State O-Line vs. Central Michigan Run Defense
MSU’s run game had a very interesting profile in PFF’s rankings, as the rushers ranked 100th in FBS, while their run blockers ranked 27th. Gone is star tackle Jarrett Horst, but he missed a bunch of time last year anyway. Interior line duo J.D. Duplain and Nick Samac, at guard and center respectively, were the driving force behind this unit’s success, and they are both back.
PFF also really liked Central’s run defense last year, as they ranked 22nd in that category while allowing just 3.8 yards per carry. Star duo Thomas Incoom and John Wesley Whitseide are gone this year, but d-lineman Jason Williams is back, looking to anchor the run stop unit after a good 2022. Quindario Lee and Jaques Bristol also showed positive flashes last year, and will be joining Williams along the d-line, allowing each other to rotate and stay fresh. The linebacking crew contains most of the same names as last year, but none of them were particularly great; they’ll hope that the continuity will allow them to all take a step forward together this year.
Central Michigan Rushers vs. Michigan State Front Seven
Similarly to MSU, the Chippewas had a pretty good run blocking performance last season, but were let down by the ballcarriers. This year, that should change, due in no small part to the quarterbacks. Emanuel was already the Chips’ highest-graded rusher per PFF last season, as he racked up 7.4 yards per carry. After Lew Nichols somewhat underperformed last season, the touches will go to Marion Lukes and Myles Bailey, Central’s next two highest-graded rushers with grades of 79.0 and 74.2, respectively.
State had a decent run defense last year, 67th in PFF’s rankings as they allowed an average of 4.3 yards per carry. The defense also doesn’t have as much talent to replace as the offense, definitely a positive for a well-rounded, albeit relatively star-free unit. Simeon Barrow Jr. will return as a centerpiece of the d-line, while Jacoby Windmon will be an important returner for a linebacking crew that will look to keep up with Central’s dual-threat QBs.