The Western Michigan Broncos open their season with a road game at Michigan’s 15th State. The Spartans enter the year with an 11-2 record, despite being race leaders Kenneth Walker III left for the NFL. Still, enough key elements are coming back for Michigan State fans to warrant optimism.
A shake-up almost seems out of the question here. Still, the Broncos are no strangers to beating ranked teams — they beat Pitt last year. Payton Thorne and the Spartans will want to prove last year wasn’t a fluke by picking up a dominating victory over their MAC opponent. There’s just enough value left in the college football betting markets to warrant a bet on Michigan State.
West Michigan vs. Michigan State Week 1 Betting Picks
West Michigan vs Michigan State Betting Odds
Running key to West Michigan hopefuls
After a 2021 campaign that could have been so much more, the Western Michigan Broncos will look to regain the upper hand in the Mid-American Conference. Their 8-5 record included a win over Pittsburgh, but also losses to MAC rivals Ball State, Toledo, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. Starting quarterback Kaleb Eleby and upper receiver Skyy Moore are gone, but the main rushers Sean Tyler and La’Darius Jefferson will both come back.
Tyler and Jefferson will likely anchor a first offense for western Michigan. The team averaged the 16th-most rushing yards per game on the 11th-most attempts last year, and roster turnover elsewhere on offense should put more on its plate. Strategist Jack Salopek will start under Broncos center despite only attempting five passes in his college career. He will work with a receiving corps that only includes one returning member to record a college take.
The defense struggled last season and may continue to do so. The Broncos ranked 92nd in defensive efficiency and lost their top tackler Ali Fayad. Western Michigan gave up more than 500 yards to only Power 5 opponents Michigan and Pitt, and another such performance could be in the cards Friday. That said, much of the opposition’s offensive production came from the field.
Big changes are needed for the state of Michigan
Expectations should be higher for a Michigan State team that is 11-2. Unfortunately, the flaws coming into this season are obvious. race leader Kenneth Walker III, who accounted for 1,725 all-purpose yards and 19 of Michigan State’s offensive touchdowns — a whopping 38% — joined the Seahawks from Seattle. Worse, the Spartans’ NCAA-worst secondary that gave up 340.8 yards per game will feature poor returning players alongside mediocre or inexperienced newcomers.
But Spartans will return as starting quarterback Payton Thorne and first receiver Jayden Roseau. They will combine to form a solid passing attack as transfer ball carriers Jarek Broussard and Jalen Berger adapt to the offence.
The Spartans will also bring back most of their defensive front. Star defensive tackle Jacob Slade enters the year as the second best returning defensive lineman in Pro Football Focus. Freshman and top tackler Cal Haladay will return to anchor the linebacking corps. The duo helped Michigan State allow 11th-fewest rushing yards per game last year. That said, the Spartans’ incompetent secondary meant opposing teams attempted just 33.3 rushes per game.
Western Michigan vs Michigan State Prediction
Don’t bet on a surprise this Friday. Western Michigan’s strength is the running game, but Michigan State’s weakness has been a strong passing offense. With Salopek leading the Broncos under center and Moore to the Kansas City Chiefs, Western Michigan won’t be able to capitalize on the struggling Spartan secondary.
Michigan State is a 21-point favorite in most books, but the 20.5 is still available at FanDuel. The Spartans tied just 68% of the money on 72% of the tickets, which makes this game a bit public, but the books could overvalue West Michigan due to their effective passing game last season. Try to get below the three-point threshold to get a solid return.
NCAAF Best Bet: Michigan State -20.5 (-110) at FanDuel | Play until -21