Utah State vs. No. 11 Michigan State primer — MSU deserves nothing good
Utah State is hoping for an upset
It’s finally here.
Utah State football’s season opens in East Lansing against the No. 11 team in the country, and for the Aggie faithful the early evening outing teases answers to the most complex offseason question of all —
Is this team legit?
It’ll be tough to gauge, considering last year’s Aggies survived two quarters in the ring with a ranked Wisconsin team before Jalen Davis got bounced for fake targeting and the rest of the team crumbled, giving up 50 unanswered points in a disheartening opener. That team turned out to be a relatively successful, bowl-eligible, fun-to-watch squad with a dope new freshman QB and the makings of a darkhorse Mountain West contender. USU will play to win tonight as any team would, but if the Aggies can simply dial up some good play calls, score some points and manage get out of East Lansing with a healthy roster they’ll be in for a fine season.
Spartans at a glance
Let’s just get something out of the way — Michigan State’s athletic department is currently riddled from top to bottom with sickening scandal, deserving of all the bad karma the universe can offer. The university also boasts a pretty good football team, but the weight of Sparty’s real-world problems shouldn’t be ignored. Perhaps in the eyes of Spartan fans a game against a lowly MW squad might seem beneath them, but this is actually a big game for Michigan State — any excuse to get the media talking touchdowns and tackles instead of Larry Nassar’s crimes against humanity (also numerous other allegations surrounding both the football and basketball programs) is an opportunity.
The offense is nothing explosive but coach Mark Dantonio doesn’t mind. Last year’s young Michigan State team tapped into the philosophy most programs attempt to achieve — defend well, control the ball and time of possession with annoying efficiency and have a guy under center who doesn’t make critical errors. Quarterback Brian Lewerke was repeatedly handed the keys to the offense under strict instruction not to totally screw things up, and together with a wide receiver corps returning all its major names in 2018 he managed the hell out of a 10-3 season while tallying 20 TDs and 7 INTs, all while averaging 215 passing yards per game.
Defensively, the Spartans found something special within their small army of underclassman studs, and they’re all back. Okay, two guys left — Chris Frey and Demetrius Cooper — but literally everyone else is back. Continuity is a rare commodity in college football, and the Spartans are ranked nationally due in no small part to the expectation that this young defensive core continues its reign as a top 10 unit.
Bonus stat — the Spartans are going for their 20th straight home opener win tonight. Gulp.