Opponent: Western Michigan Broncos
Date: Sept. 4, 2015
Location: Waldo Stadium (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
Final Score: 37-24, Michigan State
All-time Matchup Record: Michigan State leads 14-2
To remix the title of the song made famous by Green Day, “Wake Me up When September Ends,” it seems more fitting for us football junkies to change the last word — as most of us awake once the month begins. That’s right, hibernation is over and Week One of college football is officially here.
Michigan State enters 2022 with very different expectations than last year, in a good way. Managing early season expectations is something Mel Tucker and company have yet to deal with during his short tenure, but the Spartans have been eager to show they’re more than a one-trick pony.
The Spartans are ranked in the preseason Associated Press Poll for the first time since 2019 (No. 15) and it’s the football program’s highest preseason ranking since 2018 (No. 11). The key this year will be about sustainability, as both of those teams would finish unranked.
Friday’s opening week matchup versus Western Michigan won’t be too revealing in stacking up this year’s roster with last year’s team, which surprised the country by winning 11 games. MSU should win fairly handily, however, with the loss of Kenneth Walker III and plenty of new faces ready to make impacts, it will be fun to see the team take on a new identity.
2015 Game Recap
In this year’s first walk down memory lane, we take you back to opening night of one of the more memorable seasons in Michigan State football history.
The matchup’s only game played in Kalamazoo was supposed to be more of a warmup for Michigan State, as the Spartans were already looking ahead to the following week’s highly -anticipated rematch and top-10 showdown versus Oregon.
Following a successful 2014 campaign with momentum carried over from an epic comeback against Baylor in the Cotton Bowl, MSU was ranked No. 5 in the AP rankings and was ready take the next step toward national contention.
Western Michigan was led by the youngest head coach in major college football (at the time), P.J. Fleck, who would soon carry the program to a MAC championship and Cotton Bowl appearance just one year later.
Unfortunately for the Broncos in 2015, they began the season facing two top-five teams in the first four weeks (Michigan State and defending national champions Ohio State). You could say the early competition helped them in conference play, as the Broncos would eventually finish the season winning seven of their last nine games, including a Bahamas Bowl victory.
Things looked breezy for MSU out of the gate, as freshman running back Madre London ran for two early touchdowns. Josiah Price capped off the opening quarter with a nine-yard touchdown reception from Connor Cook. By halftime, it was looking like a runaway with the Spartans leading 27-7.
The second half turned out to be a different story, though, as the Broncos led a valiant comeback effort to pull within 10-points early in the fourth quarter, following two long touchdown drives.
After giving up a field goal and having a three-and-out possession late in the game, Western Michigan drove to the red zone with a chance to make the final minutes dramatic. However, Michigan State freshman cornerback Vayante Copeland ended the suspense with an interception in the end zone, icing the victory for the Spartans.
The 2015 Michigan State team would eventually go on to win the Big Ten championship and clinch the program’s first College Football Playoff berth.