3 Things To Remember For Utah State Opener

3 Things To Remember For Utah State Opener

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3 Things To Remember For Utah State Opener

If Michigan State hasn’t earned a trip to the College Football Playoff by the middle of the third quarter Friday night, don’t fret – and keep some simple things in mind.  The season’s just starting – don’t tap into the stress reserves too early…

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Three things to keep in mind for Friday night, folks…..

UTAH STATE CAN PLAY

Utah State jumped out to a 10-0 lead over Wisconsin in Madison in the opener for each team last season.

Utah State has 18 starters returning from a team that finished the regular season 6-6 and earned a trip to the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

Bryce Love is a rangy, athletic quarterback (he’s 6’4″ and 225 pounds) and he’s entering this season as the clear-cut quarterback and leader for the Aggies.

These guys aren’t coming all the way to East Lansing to get a tour of Michigan State’s world class Cyclotron.

However, if the stress level begins to creep into a zone that’s uncomfortable, keep in mind that after Utah State jumped out to that 10-0 lead at Madison last season, the Badgers wound up Wisconsining the Aggies with 59 unanswered points.

MICHIGAN STATE CAN BE RUSTY IN OPENERS

The fact that Michigan State churns out double-digit-win seasons regularly has a tendency to cause people to forget that there are often some ugly moments as the season starts.

The Spartans haven’t overwhelmed opponents in non-conference games and there have been some clunkers even at the start of Big Ten Championship seasons.

Last season, Bowling Green finished the year 2-10 after Michigan State dispatched the Falcons in the opener.

But, Bowling Green led the game 3-0 at the end of first quarter.

With the 3-9 performance of 2016 still very much on everyone’s mind, that was an underwhelming and somewhat disappointing opening quarter to the season.

But, eventually, Michigan State got into a groove and won the game 35-10.

In the Spartans’ second game of 2017, Michigan State had a 14-7 lead in the third quarter against a mediocre Western Michigan team.

The Spartan defense had to hold Western throughout the fourth quarter to maintain the 28-14 lead that wound up being the final score.

In Michigan State’s 2015 Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff season , P.J. Fleck-led Western Michigan fought Michigan State all night at Waldo Stadium before the Spartans pulled away for a 37-24 opening game win.

If this Friday night’s game inches along and things are tight for longer than anyone in Green & White might prefer, just remember that the Spartans have had closer-than-desired ball games in the early going of monster seasons before.

UTAH STATE’S RUSH DEFENSE ISN’T FEARSOME

If it takes a bit of time for Michigan State to find a rhythm on offense, hang tight.

Utah State’s defensive interior is not particularly strong.

Last season, the Aggies finished 9th in the Mountain West against the run – they allowed 217 yards per game on the ground.

One of the things Michigan State is likely to work on over the course of this game is the ground attack.

With four out of last season’s five starting offensive lineman returning, Mark Dantonio is going to expect the Spartans to be able to pound the ball all season long – even against the toughest of defenses.

Friday night gives Michigan State a chance to give the offensive line confidence for the season ahead by staying disciplined with the running game, letting the guys up front generate chemistry, and giving LJ Scott the chance to start 2017 off with a bang.

It would be surprising if Utah State was able to keep Michigan State shut down on the ground all night.

The Spartans might not explode right out of the gate – but hang in there, folks – it would be a surprise if Michigan State didn’t finish the night with more than 200 yards on the ground.

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