Michigan State football faces its first major test of the 2022 season, traveling to Seattle to take on Washington. What advantages do the Spartans have?
Believe it or not, No. 11 Michigan State football actually heads into Saturday’s game in Seattle against an unranked Washington team as the “underdog.”
Michigan State has to be wary of the Huskies as they feature a certified Spartan killer in the form of Michael Penix Jr. at quarterback. But the Spartans are due for bringing him down in a head-to-head matchup. Michigan State’s defense has seen him before and they’re going to get another crack at him on Saturday — they contained D’Eriq King last year in non-conference play, so why not do the same here?
Michigan State does have some clear advantages over the 2-0 Huskies despite being underdogs, per Vegas.
What advantages do the Spartans have over Washington heading into Saturday night’s game?
3. Return game
Don’t get me wrong, Giles Jackson is a solid return man for Washington, but he doesn’t quite hold a candle to Jayden Reed. In 14 career punt returns at Washington, Jackson has just 100 return yards and no touchdowns. That’s not bad at all, but Reed has 17 returns at Michigan State for 273 yards and two touchdowns and should have had a third last week of over 80 yards but it was called back due to holding.
As for kick returns, Reed is averaging about 19.6 per return on 37 opportunities while Jackson is averaging close to 23 but he has yet to return one to the house — same with Reed.
This is huge for the field position battle and with Reed being a bigger threat on punt returns and similar on kickoffs, Michigan State has to feel good about this special teams unit.
On top of that, Bryce Baringer is one of the best punters in the nation and he’s not going to put his coverage unit in a bad spot with Jackson getting plenty of space to run.