A battle in The Mitten State is in store in Week 1 when the #15 Michigan State Wolverines host the Western Michigan Broncos. The Spartans own a 14-2 record all-time against their in-state counterpart, including a 51-17 victory the last time they met in 2019.
Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m. EST inside Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State is a 21-point favorite, and the over/under total is 54.5 points.
What to Know – Western Michigan Broncos
The Broncos carry some momentum into 2022 after an 8-5 record last season and a 52-24 victory over Nevada in the Quick Lane Bowl. Head coach Tim Lester enters his sixth season with a 32-25 record in Kalamazoo. Western Michigan was projected to finish fourth in the MAC West Division this season.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Salopek will make his first career collegiate start in Friday night’s opener. Salopek completed just 3-of-5 passes last season for 20 yards.
Both leading rushers return for the Broncos in junior Sean Taylor and senior La’Darius Jefferson. The two backs split the workload last season and expect much of the same this season. Tyler amassed 1,150 yards and nine touchdowns, and Jefferson chipped in 836 yards and ten scores.
Skyy Moore graduated to the NFL but Corey Croom, the team’s second-leading receiver last season, is back. Croom caught 44 passes for 768 yards last season, scoring six touchdowns. The Broncos add a pair of veteran transfers in A.J. Abbott (Wisconsin) and Jehlani Galloway (Boston College).
What to Know – #15 Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State enters year three of the Mel Tucker era, and the Spartans are expected to be a player in the Big Ten Conference. Tucker turned around a 2-5 team in 2020 into an 11-2 team last year. The Spartans were picked by the media to finish fourth in the Big Ten East.
Payton Thorne returns under center after a sophomore campaign that saw him throw for 3,240 yards with 27 touchdowns and ten interceptions. Thorne’s dad is an assistant coach on the WMU’s coaching staff.
Wisconsin transfer Jalen Berger will have to fill the void left by Walter Camp and Doak Walker award winner Kenneth Walker III. Berger rushed for 389 yards and three touchdowns in two seasons with the Badgers.
Three of the MSU’s top-five pass catchers join Thorne back in the offense. Senior Jayden Reed leads the trio after surpassing 1,000 yards last year and catching ten touchdown passes. Trey Mosley and Montorie Foster add familiarity to the Spartan passing game.
The Pick is In
Western Michigan is a well-coached team with some playmakers back offensively, but the revealing of a new quarterback and losses on defense don’t do the Broncos any favors in Week 1.
Michigan State lost their star rusher, but the Spartans return a bulk of their contributors from last year. Experience plays a key role in the season opener as the Spartans deal the Broncos with a lopsided loss.
The Pick: Michigan State Spartans -21