Spartans battle Broncos
August 30, 2013
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Line: Michigan State -28 vs. Western Michigan
Total set at 45
After a 6-6 SU year in the regular season was capped off with a Bowl win against TCU last year, the Michigan State Spartans know they have plenty of room for improvement. They've heard all summer about how good the Big 10 is going to be with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Northwestern, Nebraska and Wisconsin all ranked in the top-25, so it's going to take a lot to compete in that conference. Thankfully, they'll have some time to get their footing with some easier games early on the schedule like tonight's vs. Western Michigan.
Yet, just because the Spartans are four-TD favorites in this game doesn't mean they won't have some struggles tonight. They are only returning seven starters on defense and the majority of those losses come up front on the defensive line. Michigan State has been known for its tough, physical brand of defense under Mark DAntonio, and having to replace numerous guys up front stings. It shouldn't hurt them too much against a young, inexperienced Broncos team tonight, but don't be surprised to see Michigan State allow a few more points than expected.
When you've got a total set at 45 and a -28 favorite, oddmakers are thinking that it will be tough for Western Michigan to cross the goal line. With a new head coach (P.J. Fleck) who's the youngest in all of college football (32), this Broncos team will be aggressive all year. Fleck knows that the expectations for his team are low after a 4-8 SU season a year ago, but he's still got his starting QB and RB in the backfield to lead the offense.
It was behind QB Tyler Van Tubbergen that Western Michigan scored at least 23 points in their final six games a year ago, albeit against MAC opponents. Michigan State is a little better than most of those MAC teams but they've got some holes and if the Broncos are on, Tubbergen and RB Dareyon Chance will exploit them.
While I have faith in Western Michigan's ability to put up points, trusting their defense is an entirely different thing. You don't score 23+ points a game and still go 4-8 SU without giving up a ton of points and Michigan State's offense is no slouch. The Spartans may have lost RB LeVeon Bell to the NFL, but all that means is that they'll take to the air more often and stretch the field. They put up 38 points on this Broncos team the last time they met (2010) and could very easily reach a similar total tonight.
That's why the best play on the board in this game is going 'over' 45 points. Michigan State's defense isn't what it was a year ago, and the Western Michigan Broncos will not be shy to push the ball. The Broncos will find the endzone on a couple of occasions and if Michigan State is going to live up to this -28 spread, you know they'll find paydirt quite often.
Take over 45 tonight.