Western is not a push over, they are coming off a season where they beat Pitt and crushed the MAC champion and their bowl opponent.
This is the game they circle on their calendar, and all the players from MI want to prove that MSU should have recruited them.
They were top 10 in total offense, while we were 54th.
They ranked 3rd in time of possession with a nicely balanced offense, we were 98th.
They were top 20 in rushing offense, while even with Walker we were 55th.
Westerns defense was 3rd nationally on third down while we were 72nd and they bring back 7 of their 11 starters.
Still we are 22 point favorites for a reason:
Western is staring a new QB who has 20 yards total passing to his name.
They lost 8 of their top 11 receivers from last year.
We have way more talent on both sides of the ball.
MSU hasn’t lost a Friday night game since 2011.
Western has never won a game at Spartan stadium despite 10 attempts.
Things that will keep the game interesting regardless of the score:
Will our O-line be able to protect the quarterback as Western was top 5 in the country, sacking the QB more than 1 out of every ten times he tried to pass.
Will our O-line be able to open holes for the RB’s, Western has good experienced LB’s with 199 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 10 Sacks.
Even if everyone is healthy we only returns 22 of 65 starts, and Duplain accounts for more than half of those.
So will the starters play well enough together to give the backups some playing time?
Which RB will do the best with what the O-Line can provide?
Will it be the bigger Berger, the more elusive Brousard , or will Collins finally be healthy and return to freshmen form where he rushed for almost 1000 yards behind a very mediocre O-line.
How effective will the DE rotation be?
We only returned 3 of our 26 starts at DE, but hired two new coaches to try and generate more pass rush this season after finishing 63rd last year only sacking the QB 6.8% of the time.
Western was only 88th in protecting the QB last year, and they have a new QB, so the opportunities should be there.
With all the emphasis on pressuring the QB how will our DE’s be at holding the edge in the running game?
Western’s RB tandem is back after a season where they had 1,900 yards and 19TD’s both above Walkers totals.
Which one of our three options will end up kicking field goals, and will they be any good at it?
Will our back up QB’s and O-Linemen get their first college snaps that they so desperately need?
How effective are the early enrollees most of whom were 4 stars?
Alex Van Sumeren #200 at the loaded DT position, where we returned all of our starts.
Katin Houser #215 a talented elite 11 QB, but does he know the playbook well enough and will our lead get big enough for him to play?
Germie Bernard #237 at the loaded WR position
Jaden Mangham #311 at safety who will be trying to displace the more experienced Gross, who sometimes struggled in pass defense.
Dillion Tatum #279, Caleb Coley #456, and Ade Willie #798 all at CB where we obviously need lots of help.
Jack Nickel #522 at TE
Chase Carter #820 at DE
Can Kimbrough as a smaller faster Nickelback be as effective in run support as Snow was last year, when he finished third on the team with 87 tackles?
Will Kimbough have better luck covering the smaller slot receivers than he did at CB?
If not who else will take over at Nickleback?
One huge area we may not get all the answers at is CB because I am not sure how much they will throw as they like to run a lot, and return all of their rushing from last year and not much of their passing.
Will Speed and Williams use their size and athleticism to become the kind of cover corners that ALA and Georgia recruited them to be?
Will Brantley who sealed the victory against UM with an interception finally be healthy again?
Who else will be in the CB rotation, and will Tucker's hands on coaching of the CB room yield the major results he is hoping for?