Western Michigan (0-0) at Michigan State (0-0)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, August 30, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Spartan Stadium (75,005) -- East Lansing, Michigan.
Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: WMU 0-0, MSU 0-0. Away Record: WMU
0-0, MSU 0-0. Neutral Record: WMU 0-0, MSU 0-0. Conference Record: WMU 0-0,
MSU 0-0. Series Record: MSU leads, 10-2.
GAME NOTES: The Michigan State Spartans and Western Michigan Broncos are set
to kick off their respective 2013 campaigns against one another in a non-
conference tilt at Spartan Stadium.
Michigan State followed up a Legends Division crown by earning a school-record
sixth straight bowl invite in 2012. The Spartans went on to beat TCU in the
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and finish 7-6, although the team felt it could have
accomplished more. Five of its losses came by four points or less, including
two in the final seconds and one in double-overtime.
The Broncos are entering their first season under new head coach P.J. Fleck,
who was hired in December to replace Bill Cubit, who was fired after last
year's 4-8 finish. Fleck previously served as the wide receivers coach for the
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and filled the same role at Rutgers before Greg Schiano
moved on to the NFL.
This marks the first meeting between these two programs since 2010. Michigan
State leads the all-time series, 10-2.
Coming off a breakout season in 2011, Broncos quarterback Alex Carder was
poised for big things as a senior in 2012. Instead, he got benched mid-season
and was replaced by Tyler Van Tubbergen, who completed 61 percent of his
passes for 1,825 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Now a senior,
Van Tubbergen is the unquestioned starter and he'll return his top two
targets, Jamie Wilson (67 catches, 792 yards, six TDs) and Josh Schaffer (43
rec), at wideout.
Also returning is senior tailback Brian Fields, who won the starting job with
a solid showing in the spring. However, only one starter returns along the
offensive line, and that lack of proven talent is cause for some concern
heading into the 2013 season.
Likewise, the WMU defense has a few key members to replace from last year's
unit that finished fifth in the MAC in total defense (395.9 ypg) and seventh
in scoring defense (29.7 ppg). Replacing Deauntay Legrier (4.5 sacks) won't be
easy, but senior tackle Trevonte Boles (9.5 TFL) is disruptive at the point of
The strength of the defense is at linebacker, where seniors Johnnie Simon
(team-high 103 tackles, INT) and Desmond Bozeman (90 tackles, 5.5 TFL, four
sacks and a fumble return for a score) lead the way. The secondary has a
couple of capable players in junior cornerback Donald Celiscar and junior
safety Justin Currie. Celiscar is the only player coming off a season with
multiple interceptions and made 79 tackles as a sophomore. Currie recorded 98
total stops, forced one fumble and broke up three passes.
Michigan State's offense returns virtually every key member except for All-Big
Ten running back Le'Veon Bell, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in
the second round of April's draft.
Considering just how heavily the Spartans leaned on Bell, the offense is
likely to undergo somewhat of a shift in style and open things up under
second-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell. Maxwell will need to improve
upon his 52.5-percent completion rate, and with top returning wideouts Keith
Mumphery (42 receptions, 515 yards, TD) and Bennie Fowler (41 rec, 524 yds, 4
TDs) back in tow, that increased familiarity should breed more success. There
is plenty of experience along the offensive line to pave the way for redshirt
freshman Riley Bullough and junior Nick Hill in the backfield.
Defensively, the Spartans return seven starters after ranking fourth in the
nation in total defense (274.4 ypg) and ninth in scoring (16.3 ppg allowed) a
Senior Max Bullough is the headliner, as he enters his third season as the
team's starting middle linebacker after racking up a team-high 111 tackles
(12.5 TFL) last year. Denicos Allen (79 tackles, 10.0 TFL) returns to the
outside, while starting safeties Isaiah Lewis (80 tackles, 2 INT, 6 PBU) and
Kurtis Drummond (53 tackles, 2 INT, 4 INT) are also back in the fold. The
biggest challenge facing the MSU defense will be trying to replace all-
conference defensive end William Gholston. However, junior Marcus Rush has
started every game of his college career and is coming off a promising season
The Spartans are heavily favored in this one, and for good reason. While
they'll have a new identity on offense without Bell, they shouldn't have too
much trouble building a comfortable lead against a Broncos team that has
undergone quite a bit of turnover, both on the roster and the coaching staff.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan State 47, Western Michigan 13
08/28 10:45:01 ET