3 Predictions For Utah State Opener

3 Predictions For Utah State Opener

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3 Predictions For Utah State Opener

The Michigan State season opener – after so many months of talk, talk, talk – is just a couple of days away.  What are three things that SpartansWire thinks will happen in the game Friday night against Utah State?

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We’ve made three suggestions on what Spartan fans should “keep in mind” as the season opener against Utah State unfolds.

We’ve pointed out three things that Spartan fans should “keep a close eye on” in the season opener against Utah State.

How about three predictions for the season opener against Utah State?

We’ll get to predicting the overall outcome of the game – but what are three things that are going to happen throughout the course of Friday night’s game at Spartan Stadium between Michigan State and Utah State?

SLOW START

As has been pretty customary during the Dantonio Era, the Spartans will get off to a slow start on Friday night.

What does that mean, exactly?

With a casual nod to the way that Utah State jumped out to a 10-0 lead over Wisconsin at Madison in each team’s season opener a year ago, the Aggies – with a veteran team, a veteran and massive offensive line, and a sophomore quarterback (Jordan Love – 6’4″, 225 pounds) who is both young enough to not get caught too fidgety about the bright lights and the 75,000 fans at the opener many miles from Logan, Utah and old enough to be comfortable with the playbook – are going to get out in front of Michigan State and make Spartan fans a little uneasy for a little too long.

The Aggies’ offensive line is Big Ten big – reminder of the vitals:

  • Senior tackle Roman Andrus – 6’4, 310 pounds.
  • Senior guard Rob Castaneda – 6’4″, 305 pounds.
  • Senior center Quin Ficklin – 6’2″, 300 pounds.
  • Junior guard Moroni Iniguez – 6’2″, 320 pounds.
  • Senior tackle Sean Taylor – 6’5″, 300 pounds.

This is not to suggest that Utah State is going to be able to pound out yards on the ground all night long – it’s merely to say that Utah State’s offensive line is probably bigger and better than four or five lines in the Big Ten and it might take a minute for the Spartans front to adjust, get comfortable with the fact that preseason camp is over and that this thing is on, for real.

This a fully in-tact line coming back from last season for the Aggies – there is chemistry, size, and experience.

So, it might take a bit of time for the Spartan defensive front to get into a groove, figure out how to adjust to what the Aggies show in the trenches, and eventually shut down the Utah State ground game.

But while the Spartans are figuring things out, Utah State will put together a couple of drives, aided by a big play or two from Love, that will lead to scores – and Brian Lewerke and the Spartan offense won’t come right out and be explosive immediately.

So, at some point in the first half, it might be a repeat of Utah State’s performance in Madison from a year ago.

Let’s put it down – Utah State will jump out to a 10-0 lead and Spartan fans will be uncomfortable for a bit.

POUND GREEN POUND WILL, EVENTUALLY, POUND

The Utah State defensive front isn’t terribly overwhelming.

Reminder that the Aggies surrendered 217 yards per game on the ground last season and finished the season 9th in the Mountain West in the rushing defense category.

While it might take a few beats for the Spartan offensive line to get it’s gears going, Michigan State will, eventually, demonstrate that the line is ready to get the job done, that LJ Scott came back for his senior year with purpose, and that there is reason for optimism with regard to Michigan State’s ground game in 2018.

The Spartans aren’t going up against the Alabama front seven on Friday night so any celebrations in the aftermath of a good rushing performance might be premature.

But, this will be a very good night for the Spartan ground game and the offensive line will be able to build on this, gain immediate confidence in the ability to control the clock and churn out sustained drives.

Look for Michigan State to finish the night with close to 250 yards rushing and at least two touchdowns on the ground.

LJ Scott will finish the night with more than 175 yards on the ground and will not – repeat, will not – fumble the football.

EVENTUALLY, THE SPARTAN DEFENSE WILL SHUT DOWN THE AGGIES

Even though we’re saying that Utah State will put together a couple of drives that might make Spartan fans a bit squeamish in the early going, when all is said and done Friday night, the Michigan State defense will have shown that it’s picking things up right where it left things in 2017.

And, most importantly, Jacub Panasiuk will show everyone why Mark Dantonio has been bullish on the sophomore defensive end’s chances of complementing Kenny Willekes and creating the push that the Spartans must have on that non-Willekes edge.

So, a few predictions within this blurb here –

The Michigan State defense will hold Utah State to less that 17 points on the night while limiting the Aggies to less than 100 total yards on the ground (once sacks and tackles-for-loss are considered) and Panasiuk will get to the Utah State backfield and put Jordan Love on the turf at least twice.

 

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