Michigan State looks to defeat a Mid-American Conference team for the second week in a row when it hosts Western Michigan in a non-conference contest on Saturday. The Spartans easily defeated Bowling Green in their season opener but might have a little tougher time with the defending MAC champs, who went toe-to-toe with then-No. 4 USC last weekend.
Coach Mark Dantonio’s squad looked solid with Brian Lewerke under center in the opener, as the sophomore passed for 250 yards and three touchdowns, and Lewerke also led the team’s running attack with 69 yards. Junior LJ Scott fumbled twice and managed just 39 yards on 15 carries, well below expectations for last year’s leading rusher for the Spartans. The Michigan State defense was impressive, holding Bowling Green to just 67 rushing yards on 24 carries, but it will get a much bigger challenge against the Broncos. LeVante Bellamy (102 yards) and Jamauri Bogan (77) combined for 179 of Western Michigan’s 263 yards on the ground against USC, giving first-year coach Tim Lester confidence his team can run on anyone.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, Big Ten Network. LINE: Michigan State -7
ABOUT WESTERN MICHIGAN (0-1): With star quarterback Zach Terrell having graduated, Lester has handed the reins of the Broncos’ offense to John Wassink, who didn’t exactly impress in the season opener. Wassink hit 50 percent of his passes but finished with just 67 yards, averaging six yards per completion, not the kind of numbers that will draw attention away from the Western Michigan running game. In order to stop teams from stacking the line to stop Bellamy and Bogan, Wassink is going to have to hit some passes down the field to keep opposing safeties honest.
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (1-0): One big reason for the struggles of the Spartans’ running game, especially Scott, was the play of the offensive line, which had its troubles opening holes. Lewerke had many of his game-high 69 yards on the ground on scrambles after going back looking to pass, showing the protection was breaking down a bit as well. For Lewerke to become a consistent passer and the running game to get back on track against Western Michigan, a young offensive line must come together and play better, especially with Big Ten play looming.
1. Michigan State junior CB Tyson Smith had a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown against Bowling Green in his first game back after suffering an offseason stroke.
2. The Spartans held Bowling Green to just 2-of-13 on third-down conversions.
3. WR Felton Davis III had four catches for 35 yards for Michigan State last week, with two of his receptions being touchdowns.
PREDICTION: Michigan State 27, Western Michigan 21