Michigan State vs. Western Michigan: Game preview, prediction


The long-awaited start to the 2015 college football season is nearing and Michigan State is preparing to take on in-state foe Western Michigan on Friday night in Kalamazoo.

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Michigan State must keep focused on this game and not the looming contest between the Spartans and Oregon Ducks the following week. Western Michigan is far from a pushover. The Broncos finished the 2014 season with an 8-5 record and 6-2 mark in conference play.

The Spartans are coming off an 11-2 season in which they finished by coming back to defeat the Baylor Bears in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Let’s take a look at who holds the advantage in each aspect of the contest and predict who will win on Friday night.


Oct 11, 2014; West Lafayette, IN, USA; Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Aaron Burbridge (16) runs through the tackle of Purdue Boilermakers defensive back Anthony Brown (9)at Ross Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State had one of the top units in the nation last season with Connor Cook at quarterback, Jeremy Langford at running back and Tony Lippett at receiver. Only one of those three returns, but Cook will have the help of a talented — and deep — group of wide outs as well as a fresh set of running backs.

The offensive line for MSU is also likely the best in the conference and one of the best in the nation. That includes top tight end Josiah Price who is no longer a secret weapon, but that doesn’t affect how successful he can be.

Western Michigan also has a solid offense with junior quarterback Zach Terrell who passed for nearly 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. He is anchored by sophomore running back Jarvion Franklin who had 1,551 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns as a freshman.

On top of all that, the Broncos are returning their top receiver, Corey Davis, and three of five offensive linemen.

Despite the returning talent of the Broncos, the Spartans have far more depth.

Advantage: Michigan State


There’s no doubt the Spartans have one of the best defenses in the nation with guys like Shilique Calhoun, Riley Bullough, Lawrence Thomas and Montae Nicholson starring on this side of the ball.

Jan 1, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Baylor Bears wide receiver Tanner Ritchey (30) celebrates with safety Demetrious Cox (7) after making an interception during the fourth quarter against the Baylor Bears in the 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the secondary being as young and unproven as it’s been in years, the Spartans’ talent in that area is immense. Vayante Copeland, Nicholson and Demetrious Cox are all first-year starters who could bring back the ‘No Fly Zone.’

We all know the front-seven for MSU is one of the best in the country.

Western Michigan had a relatively average defense last season, ranking 45th in the country in terms of yards allowed per game. The Broncos run a blitz-heavy 4-3 scheme that could cause some problems for MSU, but luckily the Spartans’ O-line is experienced enough to handle it.

The linebackers are some of the best in the MAC and the best Western Michigan has had in a while, but the secondary is relatively untested.

Advantage: Michigan State

Head Coach

This one really doesn’t need an explanation. Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck is one of the top young coaches in college football, but he has yet to really show anything at the Division I level, posting an overall record of 9-16 in two years.

On the other side, Mark Dantonio is one of the top-three college football head coaches out there and his 75-31 record at Michigan State is only getting better.

Advantage: Michigan State


Michigan State’s depth in the trenches will prove to be just far too much for the Broncos to handle. The Western Michigan offense will be tough to stop at the beginning of the game for the Spartans, but they will rebound and prove to be stingy for yet another season.

Michigan State 42, Western Michigan 20

Next: MSU Football: Game by game predictions for 2015