Central Michigan vs Michigan State: 5 Spartans who will be X-factors

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Sep 12, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) and Michigan State Spartans linebacker Riley Bullough (30) stand on the field between plays prior to a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s Central Michigan vs Michigan State game might be one of the more underrated non-conference bouts of the young season and the Spartans are heading into the game with their highest ranking — No. 2 — in decades.

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After the win over Air Force, Michigan State is looking to improve in basically every major facet of the game. The Spartans are led by Connor Cook, one of the top Heisman contenders in college football, and he might just be the top key to victory in this game against a solid MAC foe who has given two Power Five teams trouble in the first three weeks.

Michigan State has struggled each week against the opponent’s passing attack and it’s really difficult to pinpoint which player has been the weak link in the chain in the secondary. With Vayante Copeland out for the rest of the season, those guys will need to step up big-time against Cooper Rush’s aerial supremacy.

Many Spartans will be forced into the action this week against Central in hopes of slowing down the pass game and others will be in the mix on offense, looking to help bolster MSU’s solid unit.

The Spartans have scored at least 30 points in 11 straight games and that’s a number that will need to continue to rise if this team has any hopes of staying unbeaten, keeping its No. 2-ranking and making the College Football Playoff at the end of the year.

This is the last non-conference game of the season for Michigan State, so there will be plenty of relief when Big Ten play starts in week five.

Let’s take a look at which five players will be X-factors for MSU this week.

Next: 5. Darian Hicks