Central Michigan vs Michigan State: Game preview with prediction


Central Michigan will be coming to town Saturday to face Michigan State in Spartan Stadium, and this may be a closer contest than people are giving it credit for. In fact, Vegas has the Spartans as 27-point favorites already, and Michigan State has struggled to cover the spread all season long.

Related: Central Michigan vs Michigan State: 5 bold predictions

With the Central Michigan vs Michigan State game quickly approaching, let’s take a look at the preview of each unit and my prediction of what the final score will be.


Sep 13, 2014; Mount Pleasant, MI, USA; Central Michigan Chippewas quarterback Cooper Rush (10) drops back to pass during the third quarter against the Syracuse Orange at Kelly/Shorts Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Cooper Rush is one of the more underrated quarterbacks Michigan State will face this season as he leads a potent aerial attack for the Chippewas. He has completed 70 percent of his passes for 983 yards, five touchdowns and three picks. He tosses an average of 43 passes per game. Rush does get sacked an awful lot, though.

Connor Cook is a serious Heisman contender. He has been average this season, under his expectations, completing 58 percent of his passes for 695 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception. Cook has been sacked just three times through three games as his offensive line is one of the best out there.

Catching most of his passes is tight end Ben McCord who leads the team with 16 receptions for 306 yards and two touchdowns. Jesse Kroll is the next closes receiver, recording 160 yards on 15 catches.

Aaron Burbridge is the breakout star of the year for Michigan State, catching 20 passes for 374 yards and four touchdowns. He leads the next closest receiver, tight end Josiah Price, by 287 yards and 14 receptions.

The run game for both teams could use a little work, but the Spartans have the most potential here. Central averages just 84 yards per game on the ground this season while the Spartans have two talented freshmen, L.J. Scott and Madre London, who could both have big games.

Advantage: Michigan State


Sep 19, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive end Shilique Calhoun (89) gets up the field against the Air Force Falcons during the 1st quarter of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State ranks in the top-10 in the country when it comes to sacks recorded with 11. Central has just five this season and the Chips have a difficult time putting pressure on opposing quarterback as they have also forced just two turnovers all year.

With Cooper Rush dropping back at least 43 times per game, the Spartans will have no problem putting pressure on the big Lansing-native. He will be flushed from the pocket on multiple occasions and be forced to thrown uncomfortable passes on the run.

The Spartans have allowed 414 yards per game this year while Central has only surrendered 308 per contest. However, the Chips have yet to face an offensive as potent as the Spartans’ and Michigan State has done nothing but face top-tier offenses.

The secondary for the Spartans may be still trying to find itself, but the front-seven have been tremendous this year. Riley Bullough, although suspended for the first half, is one of the nation’s leaders in tackles (39) while also recording 3.0 sacks.

Advantage: Michigan State

Special Teams

Sep 12, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans place kicker Michael Geiger (4) kicks a field goal out of the hold of Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Matt Macksood (86) during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Geiger has struggled mightily this season, making just 2-of-4 field goals, missing a chip-shot against Oregon in week two and clanking one off the backs of his blockers last week against Air Force. His confidence, although he says it’s fine, is at an all-time low and that may be because he’s just 16-for-25 since his freshman season.

Brian Eavey is 13-of-15 during his career at Central and his only miss this season was from 50-plus yards. He has, however, missed just as many extra points as he has field goals throughout his career as he’s 48-of-50 with the one-point conversions.

Jake Hartbarger might be the difference in this category, though, as the freshman punter has looked fantastic this year, kicking a high, tight spiral every time he gets a shot. He gives the coverage team enough time to get down the field and he has been the MVP of special teams through three games.

Neither team has returned a punt or kickoff for a touchdown this season — yet.

Advantage: Michigan State

Prediction: Central Michigan 20, Michigan State 37

Next: Central Michigan vs. MSU: 5 players who need to step up

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