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The 3-2-1 preview: 3 things we want to see, 2 key stats, 1 gambling pick vs. Utah State

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Hopefully it’s as easy as 1-2-3 against Utah State

NCAA Football: Indiana at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

New season, new weekly idea.

This weekly preview will be a quick-hitting preview with — you guessed it — 3 things we want to see, 2 key stats for MSU’s game and I will take a stab at getting 1 gambling pick right.

Let’s give this the ol’ college try.

3 things we want to see

The secondary not missing a step with Scott out

Josh Butler is the clear-cut guy replacing injured stud Josiah Scott, according to the depth chart. However, this position group is stacked like flapjacks and we should be getting a good look at the guys in the two-deep, including Tre Person, Shakur Brown and freshmen Kalon Gervin and Xavier Henderson.

With Utah State returning quarterback Jordan Love and a solid tight end in Dax Raymond, MSU might not have that big room for error we would expect from a Group of 5 team.

Penn State v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Strong play from the offensive line

Well, no duh. It’s not like we ever want to see bad offensive line play. This is more so why we want to see strong offensive line play.

After seeing Brian Allen get picked in last year’s NFL Draft, it’s clear the top dog on that unit is gone. Right now Tyler Higby is the man replacing him, with Matt Allen slated as the backup who will probably be getting a decent amount of reps at center or either guard position.

Luke Campbell is also listed as a backup to either tackles, and seeing him thrive with his reps would just be dandy. You know, as Abraham Lincoln once said, “You can never have too much offensive line depth.”

Emergence at backup running back

Spoiler alert – LJ Scott will be getting a lot of touches and will be The Man.

Now, who’s the second in command? Right now it will probably be Connor Heyward and the third guy is up for grabs.

Now a good chunk of people might look at third string, scoff and say “pshh, it doesn’t matter.” Well, MSU has proven that role has been important to MSU’s offense in the past. Just ask Madre London, Delton Williams, Nick Hill, Larry Caper and – you get the point by now.

If Elijah Collins, Weston Bridges and/or La’Darius Jefferson can take the first step in separating themselves from that group on Friday night, that’s all the better.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Northwestern Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

2 key stats

18 Starters returning

And not for MSU – we’re talking about Utah State.

Yes, a lot of talk around these parts are the 19 starters MSU is returning, but let’s not overlook how much experience is returning for the Aggies either. That includes their entire offensive line and entire front seven on defense.

Now, this isn’t like Bama returning 18 starters – MSU should still be winning this talent gap. But still, this is a quality Utah State team coming into East Lansing and a great test for our Spartans on opening night.

3,929 yards

That’s how much receiving and rushing production MSU is returning to the 2018 season from last year’s team. Sometimes timing and chemistry can be a tad off to start the season as new receivers and running backs are getting used to the quarterback and system. Dare I say, that shouldn’t be a problem this opening night with just about every skill position player coming back to make some noise in 2018.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

1 gambling pick

The line MSU -23.5, O/U 50.5

I’m going with Utah State to cover. Between the amount of returning starters the Aggies have, the up-tempo offense they run possibly throwing a weird wrench into things and MSU generally not showing much in their opening games leads me to believe this will be a close game. (Record: 0-0 — I’m cherishing that empty loss column already)

Poll

What’s your lock for MSU vs. Utah State?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    MSU -23.5
    (27 votes)
  • 40%
    Utah State +23.5
    (60 votes)
  • 27%
    Over 50.5
    (40 votes)
  • 14%
    Under 50.5
    (21 votes)
148 votes total Vote Now