Spartans And Broncos In Huge Early Clash

By: Michael Robinson | Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Two top-25 teams breaking in new quarterbacks, the Boise State Broncos and Michigan State Spartans, meet in a huge Week 1 college football contest on Friday night.

ESPN is stoked to have the 8:00 p.m. (ET) kickoff from Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. This is the first meeting ever between the schools.

Michigan State is listed as a 6½-7 point home favorite for the clash with a total of 46. Neither team is reporting any significant injuries.

The Broncos are ranked No. 24 in the AP Poll and No. 22 in the Coaches.  They have averaged over 12 wins per year in coach Chris Petersen’s six seasons and even won two Fiesta Bowls as touchdown ‘dogs each.

Boise State went 12-1 straight up and 9-4 against the spread last season in its first year in the Mountain West Conference. This is also their final year in the MWC with a move to the Big East next season.

The big problem looming over the team is replacing quarterback Kellen Moore. He amassed an NCAA record 50 wins over his career. Junior Joe Southwick is his replacement with lifetime stats of 40-of-54 for 400 yards, but Peterson just announced he was the starter on Sunday, so it wasn’t a slam-dunk decision.

The 6-foot-1 Southwick will have a solid offensive line in front of him despite losing left tackle Nate Potter. Running back Doug Martin (1,299 rushing yards last year) was a first-round pick of Tampa Bay in April, but D.J. Harper is ready to assume full-time duties, although durability is a concern.

The defense ranked in the top-16 nationally last year in both points (18.7 PPG) and yards allowed (320.9 YPG), but returns just two starters. The biggest questions are along the defensive line.

The Spartans are ranked No. 13 in both polls after a great 11-3 SU (10-4 ATS) campaign last year. They covered their final five games, but are still kicking themselves for losing the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game to Wisconsin, 42-39 as 9½-point ‘dogs.

Coach Mark Dantonio is in his fifth season and dealing with a huge quarterback loss of his own in Kirk Cousins. However, strong-armed junior Andrew Maxwell has been the heir apparent for a while and he’s got good size at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds.

Michigan State lost talented receivers B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin, who combined for 2,083 receiving yards and 16 TDs. The holdovers are big and talented, but also very raw.

Fortunately, running back Le’Veon Bell (948 yards last year) has returned to pound it behind a solid offensive line. He will surely test the Broncos front-seven early to take some pressure off Maxwell.

The Spartans defense was top-10 nationally last year and returns nine starters, led by defensive end William Gholston and cornerbacks Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard. The difference between the defenses is the biggest reason this spread is approaching a touchdown in addition to the home field.

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