The stage is set for Western Michigan to shock the college football world as they welcome the Michigan State Spartans to Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo on Friday night. The experts who place lines on the game have the Spartans as 17 ½ point favorites, but if we've learned anything about college football, the game still must be played on the field.
Spartan Digest has five keys to victory for the Spartans in this content.
MATCHUP: MICHIGAN STATE NO. 5 @ WESTERN MICHIGAN
Kickoff: 7 p.m. EST
Don't get too hyped before the start of the game.
The Spartans will enter major favorites but will be facing a team with a head coach looking to add a notch to his belt and springboard his career as the next hot head coach for a Power Five program at the end of the season. Get too hyped and allow the Broncos to have any early success and you run the risk of building their confidence and keep them in the game longer than they should be.
Control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
The Spartans have been touted by many in the press as having the best defensive and offensive line since the arrival of Mark Dantonio. Now is the time to show it with allowing the defensive front four putting early pressure on Broncos quarterback Zach Terrell to force him into making mistakes. This will be a good opening night test as WMU has an experience offensive line with great size. On the offensive side of the ball the Spartans must keep the Broncos off of quarterback Connor Cook while opening up holes for the Spartans running backs to give them confidence.
Pound Green Pound!!!!
What better way to test an unproven group of running backs but to give them the ball and allow your top offensive line to pound down the Broncos defensive front. Madre London gets the start this week but we fully expect to not only see Gerald Holmes and true freshman L.J. Scott, but also Delton Williams. Experience now will pay off big in the games to come.
Defense must play fast paced and aggressive.
Pat Narduzzi is gone and Mike Tressel and Harlon Barnett are fully capable of getting the job done as co-defensive coordinators. However, we feel the Spartans defense must come out and play fast early and show the aggressive play they've become know for. Get your young linebackers in the flow and allow your young players in the secondary to play aggressive against a solid group of wide receivers capable of making big plays.
Throw the ball on early downs.
Don't put quarterback Connor Cook in third down passing situations where the Broncos and rear back and come hard. Dave Warner needs to mix things up by allowing Cook the chance to throw the ball on early downs early in the game to open up the running game. Aaron Burbridge, MacGarrett Kings Jr. and R.J. Shelton has game experience, but none of them have been a go-to receiver for Cook. Throwing the ball early with success will help open running lanes for the Spartans inexperienced group of running backs.