Michigan State football opens its 2018 season with a visit from Utah State. Will the Spartans be able to build upon a great 2017 campaign?
Utah State and MSU had similar records in 2016 and each team bounced back in major ways in 2017 by going to bowl games. While the Aggies ended the year 6-7, the Spartans were 10-3.
Utah State brings back many returning starters and a team that is hungry for an upset. Also, it appears the Aggies have found their signal-caller in sophomore quarterback Jordan Love.
The Spartans bring back a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and it is a major reason for talk of a potential run at the Big Ten title and maybe more. Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke takes the helm again and commands an offense that has all its skill position players back. Also, the offensive line only lost one starter from last year in Brian Allen. The Spartans looked great at times last year on offense and at other times appeared to be overmatched or to sputter.
This game features two teams with much to prove. However, defensively the Aggies feature many freshmen and sophomores. Also, Utah State may have a difficult time replacing leader Dallin Leavitt at the safety spot.
Utah State’s Love is not much of a running quarterback although they do execute an RPO (run/pass/option) type of offense. The Aggies also bring back their senior leading receiver Ron’quavion Tarver. He had 48 receptions for 569 yards and seven touchdowns. They also utilize their tight end Dax Raymond as he had 456 yards receiving in 2017 but only one touchdown.
This appears to be a team that prefers to run between their pads at the goal line.
The Aggies’ running game lost their top two rushers from 2017, yet they do return some talent to the backfield. They have a pair of smaller backs in senior Eltoro Allen and junior Gerold Bright, but I would not be surprised to see sophomore Tre Miller in the mix. He’s a beast at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds and could see some touches due to his size.
Love only played sporadically during the first part of last season before taking over for the last six games — he threw eight touchdown passes but had six picks. Utah State finds itself in a similar boat like the Spartans where they had some success last year, but let some games get away. Both teams are looking to take that next step and it begins Friday night.
Final Score: Utah State 17, Michigan State 45