Michigan State Spartans. Youngstown State Penguins. Fans back in the stands.
What more could you need?
How about a 3-2-1 Preview to get you into the weekend? This game should be no-sweat for MSU but, as always, we can always find something to keep us on edge for the afternoon.
Let’s break it down.
3 THINGS WE WANT TO SEE
A FAST START FROM THE OFFENSE (AGAIN)
A boring game would just be the greatest sight in the world, and not just for having a relaxing afternoon in East Lansing as a fan. It will also be imperative in getting Youngstown State in an uncomfortable position on offense.
Last week the Penguins threw the ball just 12 times and ran it more than 60 times. They had the luxury of doing so because it was a shootout all game and they were able to keep feeding their star running back, Jaleel McLaughlin, the ball on handoffs.
Youngstown State returns nine offensive starters, but the Penguins’ quarterback — redshirt freshman Demeatric Crenshaw — is not one of those nine. He’s fresh to the college game, this will likely be the loudest atmosphere he has faced to date and airing it out is not the Penguins’ preferred way of running their offense. Get them down early by a few possessions and force them to air the ball out.
A STRONG GAME FROM RONALD WILLIAMS
I’m not saying he had a horrible game last Friday against Northwestern, but it was a little touch-and-go after an offseason of relatively high hype for the Alabama transfer cornerback. Some catches let up were simply just great throws or grabs by the receiver...but one instance in the first half he was just simply beat on a no-frills go route that had us saying “yikes” for a second.
Listen, it’s very tough for a cornerback to pitch a perfect game. It’s also arguably the most mental, confidence-driven position not just in football, but in all of sports (besides maybe quarterback). Getting his bearings against a FCS opponent could only do great things for his psyche.
Please, for the love of all that is good, mix in a water if you are going to the game on Saturday.
I imagine the tailgating scene will be like shaking a bottle for two years and then opening it — just an explosion of happiness and debauchery. Have a great time, be safe and my goodness take care of yourself. I am begging you.
2 KEY STATS
That’s how many yards per carry the speedy Jaleel McLaughlin had last week for Youngstown State against Incarnate Word. On one hand, yes, it’s just Incarnate Word. But make no mistake — this guy can run and has an impressive burst that can let the Penguins hang around on Saturday.
Between his 29 carries and two catches, McLaughlin racked up 288 all-purpose yards last week. That was good enough to earn Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors, and certainly good enough to make him the guy MSU needs to key in on.
And on the flip side, that’s how many yards per carry the Youngstown State defense let up last week. That comes after a season of giving up 4.1 yards per carry as well, which is a somewhat relevant stat as this year’s team returns 10 defensive starters from last spring.
Another 200-yard performance is a tall task to ask for, but Kenneth Walker III could be primed for a big game in general. Or, perhaps, the Spartans throw a healthy balance of guys at the Penguins and give everyone a fair share of touches. Maybe they even get nuts and throw Eli Collins out there again. WHO KNOWS??
1 BEST BET
MSU -19.5 versus Youngstown State
FBS versus FCS games can be tough spreads to find, but there is at least one sportsbook out there with -19.5. I also could not find any over/under total out there, so this is all we are strapped with.
Just to be transparent, confidence for this pick isn’t too high. If the offense starts hot and Youngstown is forced to start chucking the ball in the second half, I like MSU’s odds to cover. Then again, I could see them going experimental in the fourth quarter again and letting the Penguins get a backdoor cover.
Screw it, give me the Penguins I guess?
Pick: Youngstown +19.5
Record: 0-1 (sorry)
What’s your best bet for Saturday?
Youngstown State +19.5