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Western Michigan

vs.

Michigan State

College Football Pick

9/9/17

All eyes were on Western Michigan football last Saturday night as it tried to pull an improbable upset of No. 4 ranked USC. But after going back-and-forth with the Trojans for 3.5 quarters, the Broncos didn’t have enough in the tank to get the upset, but at least turned some heads with the performance. With Michigan State its next opponent, things could be interesting again with the Spartans opening as -7.5 point home favorites at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

Most people thought WMU would completely drop-off this season with coach P.J. Fleck gone as well as its top quarterback and almost entire offensive line. But that wasn't the case in the opener and now the Broncos get to take on a team that had only three wins last year. Of course, it’s a new season for Michigan State and Mark Dantonio after they got off on the right foot beating Bowling Green, also of the MAC, 35-10, despite a slow start.

While the Falcons aren’t considered as good as the Broncos, it was still impressive for Michigan State to hold BG’s quarterback to 10-of-31 passing while stopping the ground game to 2.8 yards per carry. If that defense shows up in this game, there will be a lot of excitement in East Lansing with the game against Notre Dame next on the schedule.

Just as impressive for the Spartans, quarterback Brian Lewerke was capable under center, something the team lacked all of 2016. Lewerke was efficient, throwing for 250 yards to go with three touchdowns, as well as 69 yards on the ground. Throw in a three-headed backfield of LJ Scott, Gerald Holmes and Madre London and this team will likely be run-first in every game, including this one.

While MSU isn’t at the same level as USC, it’s still relevant that USC was able to run for 232 yards on 6.8 yards per carry against the Broncos. Coming into the season, the defense was supposed to be the bright spot for the Broncos and now they could give up huge totals in their first two games. If MSU can win the battle in the trenches, that could be it for Western Michigan.

Just as interesting will be the matchup on the other side of the field with WMU expected to run the ball as much as possible after going for 263 yards against USC. With stopping the ground game Michigan State’s identity, it may be a little more difficult for Jamauri Bogan, Jarvion Franklin and LeVante Bellamy. To have a chance at winning or covering, the Broncos may need to rush for 200-plus yards again. At quarterback, Jon Wassink didn't show much of anything in his first game as starter, completing 11-of-22 passes for 67 yards and will have a hard time doing much against the MSU secondary.

Going against a better run defense, this game may actually be more difficult for Western Michigan. Then again, the Spartans don’t have as good of offense and could have trouble putting together scoring drives at a consistent rate. While some money will be on Western Michigan due to its performance against USC, it still may be best to take the better defensive team that could bottle up WMU’s offensive attack.

Our Pick - Western Michigan was 11-1 a year ago. They beat Northwestern and Illinois from the Big 10 and went toe to toe with Wisconsin, losing 24-16 in the Cotton Bowl. Add in going toe to toe with USC a week ago and we say, why not again? Western Michigan +7.5


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