Bump: I'm bumping this back up top to double as the pregame thread. We have a TON of good content below, so make sure you scroll down through everything.
Game time: 8 p.m.
Radio: Spartan Sports Network
Other gameday info from MSU: Here
Opponent blog: One Bronco Nation Under God
Preseason Q&A: Here
Pete's EL Visitors' Guide: Here
Friday is the biggest season-opener for MSU since the defending national champion Nebraska Cornhuskers came to Spartan Stadium in 1995. Or, if you want to go back to a good MSU team, opening with Oregon in 1999 or USC in the Big Ten championship season of 1987.
Anyway you slice it, one of the most-hyped MSU teams in a while has the national spotlight as it welcomes Boise State to East Lansing on Friday in front of a national TV audience. The Broncos aren't the only team that can match their field color to their home jersey!
By the numbers:
13,500: The square footage of new video boards at Spartan Stadium
5.2: Le'Veon Bell's yards-per-carry last year
0: Season-opening losses for Boise State under Chris Petersen, including wins over Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia in the last three years.
12: Draft picks between these teams in 2012; six each
13: Returning starters for MSU, including eight on defense
5: Returning starters for Boise State
Three keys for MSU:
Offense line lives up to the hype: With four starters returning, there are no more excuses. The only position MSU hasn't been able to consistently develop in the Mark Dantonio era is the offensive line. There is experienced depth this year and, barring injuries, the line has to be a strength of the offense. Only redshirt freshman Jack Allen at left guard is the question mark, as Blake Treadwell is out with an injury. MSU has typically been good in avoiding sacks, but the running game has to be there as a new passing game breaks in.
Andrew Maxwell stays composed in the spotlight: Speaking of that passing game, Maxwell's highly-touted debut is here. We know he has all the physical tools - he's probably a better passer and athlete than Cousins - but the moment of truth is finally upon him. There is no easing into things. Boise State, at Central Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State are four of the first five games. He has to play well right away. All signs point to good things on the throwing end, but what happens under the lights is yet to be seen.
Defense doesn't overpursue, sticks to assignments: Petersen knows what he's doing. Expect him to use MSU's aggressiveness against itself. I wouldn't be surprised to see plenty of screens, reverses and other movements in the endless amount of formations the Broncos will put out. The passing game will be full of quick throws to negate that pass rush, as Youngstown State did will some effectiveness in the 2011 opener. The Spartans need to play with their heads over their hearts, which will be out of control given the hype for this game and season. If the Spartans play smart and stick to their assignments, it should be a long night for Boise State, but a couple mental errors could result in some big plays.
Three keys for Boise State:
Defensive line stops MSU's running game: It's pretty simple. With MSU breaking in a new passing game, force them to rely on it. With a new front seven, if Boise State's defensive line can stuff the run, it will likely cause fits for the Spartans. Even if the line isn't completely effective and the Broncos have to fill the box, force MSU to rely on success in the passing game. Dan Roushar has shown a stubbornness to continue pounding the ball, even if it's not working. If a rookie quarterbacks beats you in his first game, so be it. But get them out of their comfort zone.
Multiple sets, fast pace affect MSU defense: As mentioned above, Boise State's offense will have to keep the MSU defense on its heels when it comes to diagnosing plays. Inviting the blitzes and getting the ball out quickly and effectively will be the goals in the passing game. Like Roushar, Narduzzi doesn't tend to adjust his style very much. Four- and five-receiver sets have proven effective against Narduzzi defenses, but having a rookie quarterback might make that more difficult.
Trickeration: These might be the two most-effective teams when it comes to trick plays. Boise State still is looked as a gimmick-y team among those who don't pay attention to college football, but with the experience against them, some trick plays could lead to score on a drive or two that end up being the difference.
Prediction: MSU 24-17
On paper, MSU should be a sizable favorite in this one with the returning experience, but Petersen will keep this one close because of a great gameplan.
MSU will sputter on its first few offensive drives, and the crowd will start to get worried about this offense. Then Boise State will score the first points of the game. MSU will get things going with a big second quarter and take a two-score lead into halftime. After a boring third quarter, MSU extends the lead early in the fourth. The Broncos attempt a late comeback, but the defense steps up and holds off Boise State for the win.
One thing I know will be true: The atmosphere is going to be incredible. If you haven't seen the new scoreboards in person yet, let me tell you that pictures don't do them justice.
Now, can we please start the season?!