Friday, August 31, 2012
Boise State-Michigan State pregame
By Brian Bennett
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Greetings from Spartan Stadium, where No. 13 Michigan State is hosting No. 24 Boise State in one of the best games of opening weekend.
I've been looking forward to this one for a long time. Adam and I have both picked the Spartans to win the Big Ten, so I'm anxious to see if they can live up to our expectations. It will not be easy against a Boise State team that is 73-6 under Chris Petersen. Give Petersen eight months to prepare, and you know he will come up with some interesting plays. But you could say the same about Mark Dantonio and his staff. If we don't see at least one gadget from each side, I'll be disappointed.
For Michigan State, I think running the ball with big Le'Veon Bell is a huge key. The Broncos have replaced their entire starting front seven from a year ago, so the Spartans need to run right at them while giving Andrew Maxwell and those green receivers a chance to ease into things a little. But I don't think that Maxwell will be especially reined in tonight. The Spartans coaches really trust the fourth-year junior quarterback and his decision-making. Bennie Fowler and tight end Dion Sims could be important players in the passing game.
Speaking of running the ball, Boise State needs to do so effectively as well. For all the talk about its trick plays, this is a team that has really thrived by using the run to set up the pass. So losing star running back Doug Martin might prove just as difficult as the graduation of quarterback Kellen Moore. Fifth-year senior D.J. Harper is expected to take the bulk of the carries for the Broncos, and you have to be two-dimensional to have a chance against Michigan State's outstanding defense.
It's a warm night -- about 87 degrees an hour before kickoff -- so that could play a role in the proceedings. Otherwise, the weather should not be much of a factor.
Can't wait to get this one going.