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Game Preview: Western Michigan Broncos vs. Michigan State Spartans

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

The Western Michigan Broncos make the short trip from Kalamazoo to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans this week. Both teams are coming off opening weeks wins.

This will be the 16th all-time meeting between the in-state foes, and Michigan State has dominated the series. However, Western Michigan would like nothing more than to stun the Spartans on their home field, and win in East Lansing for the first time in a literal century.

Let’s preview this week’s matchup below:

Tale of the Tape

Michigan State:
2019 Record — 1-0 (0-0 Big Ten)

Offense (Week 1 output)— 303 total yards, 195 passing yards, 108 rushing yards

Defense (Week 1 output)— 80 yards allowed, 153 passing yards allowed, -73 rushing yards allowed

Cumulative Points Scored: 28

Cumulative Points Allowed: 7

Current S&P+ Ranking: 26th

Western Michigan:
2019 Record — 1-0 (0-0 MAC)

Offense (Week 1 output) — 458 total yards, 368 passing yards, 90 rushing yards

Defense (Week 1 output)— 322 yards allowed, 194 passing yards allowed, 128 rushing yards allowed

Cumulative Points Scored: 48

Cumulative Points Allowed: 13

Current S&P+ Ranking: 63rd


Series History/All-Time Records

All-time head-to-head record: Michigan State leads 13-2 (since 1908)
Last Michigan State Win: Sept. 9, 2017 (28-14)
Last Western Michigan Win: Oct. 11, 1919 (21-18)
Michigan State all-time record: 702-459-44 (.602)
Western Michigan all-time record: 570-453-24 (.556)

Fun fact: This series has only played one game in Kalamazoo (2015).


Previous Game Results

Michigan State 28, Tulsa 7

A world-class defensive effort. An offense that put up just one touchdown against a Group of Five bottom feeder. What else did you expect from this team? This is probably what we’re going to get for the majority of the year, unfortunately. The defense will keep this team in every game and the offense will leave a lot to be desired. But, the good news is there is a lot of time to develop and grow offensively. It was not pretty, but at the of the day, Michigan State defeated Tulsa and started the season 1-0.

Oh, and Kenny Willekes is an absolute beast.

Western Michigan 48, Monmouth 13

Western Michigan throttled Monmouth, an FCS opponent, to start the season. The Broncos enjoyed a 21-0 lead to start the game, then a 38-7 lead before the Hawks scored for the final time of the evening. Senior quarterback, Jon Wassink, went off by completing 20 of 25 passes for 368 yards, with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. He took home Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors in the MAC West. Wide receiver was recognized as MAC West Special Teams Player of the Week as well. The Broncos did give up 322 yards to Monmouth, though.


Key Matchups

Jon Wassink vs. Michigan State secondary: Wassink was the highest rated passer in the NCAA last week. He’ll have a much tougher test this week against an MSU secondary that boasts the likes of Josiah Scott, David Dowell, Xavier Henderson and Josh Butler — a unit that gave up just 153 passing yards against Tulsa. Wassink was the quarterback for WMU the last time these two teams met in 2017. He went just 11 of 26 for 79 yards and a pick. He brings much more experience this time around.

Michigan State defensive line vs. Western Michigan offensive line: Last week, MSU allowed -73 yards rushing to a team that prides itself on running the football effectively. I still can’t believe that happened in an actual game. The Spartans also had six sacks (which contributed to the negative rushing yards). Meanwhile, the experienced Broncos’ offensive line only allowed one sack last week. However, WMU was only able to muster 90 rushing yards against an FCS foe — that’s 18 rushing yards less than Michigan State had. Good luck running on that team in green and white, Western.

Michigan state rushing attack vs. Western Michigan: Obviously, Brian Lewerke’s play at quarterback is going to be crucial, but I want to see if the already banged up offensive line can provide any kind of push in the ground game. Michigan State only was able to gain 108 rushing yards against Tulsa last week. Meanwhile, the Broncos gave up 128 yards rushing to Monmouth, including 108 yards to a guy named Pete Guerriero. This should inspire confidence for Connor Heyward and company, but despite playing behind a banged up offensive line, it is vital that the team shows improvement in this area.


Game Info

Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV Channel: Big Ten Network
Location: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Weather expectations: 69 degrees at kickoff, cloudy, sunset 8:02 p.m.
Line: Michigan State -16


Overview:

The Spartans received devastating news this week that sophomore receiver Jalen Nailor broke his foot and will miss the rest of the season. It will be interesting to see who steps up in a relatively deep wide receiver group. On top of this, Cole Chewins and A.J. Arcuri are injured on the offensive line, and several other guys are already banged up. Still, this is a game Michigan State should win with ease.

Here’s another fun fact: Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States the last time Western Michigan beat Michigan State in a football game (1919). I don’t see that changing in 2019. The Michigan State defense — led by captains Joe Bachie, Kenny Willekes and Raequan Williams — are going to stifle a weak Broncos rushing attack. While we’ve already highlighted Wessnick’s abilities as a passer, he’s going to have a much tougher assignment this week.

Offensively, honestly, who knows? I think this is an opponent the Spartans can take advantage of and actually put up a fair amount of points — again, WMU gave up more than 320 yards to an FCS school, while MSU gave up 80 net yards to a much better FBS Group of Five school— but it’s hard to say that with confidence. Is Western Michigan a better team than Tulsa? Possibly, but maybe not. We’ll find out shortly.

Overall, I think the Spartans win comfortably — by 24 points or so. I think the offense looks more promising this week. But that’s just my hopeless optimism.

What do you think?

Poll

Which school earns the victory?

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Michigan State
    (147 votes)
  • 15%
    Western Michigan
    (27 votes)
174 votes total Vote Now