TOC Nation, we are 14 days away from game 1. We are getting to the end of our position group previews, so we are going to start the next portion of our season previews, a look at each opponent. We will do a more in-depth opponent analysis article leading up to each game during the season. These preseason posts on the other hand have one intention: to fill you all with optimism for a great season of Michigan State football.
So let’s jump into it. Michigan State University will begin its 2023 campaign with a Friday night home game against Central Michigan University. Last season, the Chippewas finished their season with a 4-8 record, 3-5 in the MAC. They played two power-5 teams, losing to Oklahoma State in their opener, 58-44, and then losing to Penn State a few weeks later, 33-14. Their season ended with a pair of losses to the other directional schools in the mitten state, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan.
CMU has some big pieces of their starting lineup to replace this year. They lost their starting quarterback, their leading rusher, their top wide receiver, and their top two TEs in terms of receiving yards. Joining the team this year is the younger brother of that top WR; we will see if Matteo Carriere is cut from the same cloth as big brother, Carlos.
Running down their roster, I see mostly freshmen and sophomores on the offensive line, and even fewer upperclassmen on the defensive line. Not sure if there were a couple bad years of recruiting the trenches or if they lost a bunch of players to the portal who outgrew playing in the MAC. As a team, the Chippewas only recorded 4 interceptions and 4 fumble recoveries; their turnover ratio was -18.
But none of this is important. What matters is that even if CMU was bringing back their QB, their top skill position players, and experienced depth on the lines, that talent would simply not compare to what awaits them in the woodshed on September 1. Sure, MSU will also be integrating some new pieces into their starting lineup, which will probably lead to some sloppy play in that game, especially in the first half. But as the game goes on, the talent disparity will become more apparent.
The crowd at Spartan Stadium is going to be pumped up. The first week of classes will have just completed and everyone is going to be ready to party. In fact, I will say that the 3 or so hours of the game are going to serve as everyone’s preparty for their first Friday night of the school year. For the seniors in the student section, this will be their last first game of the season. For the freshmen, it will be their first game ever in sections 10-14 (someone younger please fact check me here). MSU will obviously be undefeated at this point and everyone is going to be excited about the potential of the new season. That energy is going to diffuse to the entirety of Spartan Stadium, and it is going to be thunderous the whole game. The energy is just going to be too much for the visiting team, who don’t even have a mascot to help invigorate them, and our Spartans will get off to a 1-0 start.