Crystal Ball Week 2

Spring practice is now a memory and fans are counting down until camp opens up in August. In our Spartan Digest Crystal Ball the Spartans are sitting with a record of 1-0 heading into a matchup with Florida Atlantic. How does Spartan Digest see this contest ending up? We look into our crystal ball.

Florida Atlantic (Sat., Sept 11, 2010) Ford Field – Detroit, Michigan

2009 Record: 5-7

Last Game Against MSU: 2008 - Score: 17-0 Spartan Victory

The legend Howard Schnellenberger roams the sidelines for the Florida Atlantic Owls and will be entering his 26th year on a college sideline as a head coach. While the coach has seen better years, he's still a coaching icon you know can put together a game plan and magical season. While the Owls will be looking for a turn for the better in 2010 after going 5-7, a chance to knock off a Big Ten team on the road would give the coach and his program another positive step as they continue to build a program he's grown from the ground up. The Spartans will not be an easy test, but one Schnellenberger will really have his team ready for.

Schnellenberger brought the Owls to East Lansing in 2008 and almost pulled the upset in a 17-0 rain soaked defeat. Mark Dantonio and his staff will remember the game and will not under estimate the Owls when they head for Detroit. While this should be a game the Spartans win, there is always a chance when you look at the number of athletes Schnellenberger has brought into the Owls program of an upset.

While the Spartans will only travel down the highway from their home, the Owls are the home team as Schnellenberger and Florida Atlantic look to spread the Owls name brand and bring in much needed revenue for their own new stadium. This will be the Spartans first time playing in Detroit.

On offense the Owls will look for Jeff Van Camp to continue where he left off in 2009. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound redshirt senior quarterback completed 109 of 184 passes for 1,372 yards, 12 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions (both in first game of season).

While the Owls will throw the ball it's the running game they like to use and running back Alfred Morris has the tools to keep the chains moving. In 2009 the Pensacola, Florida native rushed for 1,392 yards and 11 touchdowns.

When Van Camp looks downfield he'll look for senior Lester Jean who has proven to be one of the Owls top targets since arriving on campus. In 2009 the Miami, Florida native pulled down 38 balls for 501 yards and 4 touchdowns. At 6-foot-3, 195-pounds, Jean is a player the Spartan secondary will have to keep in check.

Just like the Spartans, the Owls use a pro-set and like to use the tight end. Senior Rob Housler has the ability to stretch the field at 6-foot-5, 210-pounds and pulled down 32 balls last season for 519 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Texas native has better speed than most expect and will need to be slowed coming off the line for the Spartans to keep the Owls in check.

On defense the Owls have used the state of Florida to bring in some very good athletes. It all starts up front as Kevin Cyrille has the size and speed at 6-foot-4, 275-pounds to cause match-up problems. The Miami, Florida product posted 40 total tackles and will look to improve upon those numbers.

Tarvoris Hill likes to play against teams considered above the Owls and will be looking to continue that streak against the Spartans. Another of the Owls with ties to Miami, Hill is not the main defensive back in the Owls program but one to keep an eye on.

The two Owls that get the most attention in the defensive backfield are Tavious Polo and Ed Alexander. Polo posted 33 total tackles to go with 2 pass break-ups and 1 interception. Alexander is the force of the group having posted 66 total tackles to go with 5 pass break-ups his junior campaign.

Much like the Spartans the middle linebacker position is well manned. Redshirt senior Michael Lockley is another Florida native who is an impressive player. At 6-foot-3, 240-pounds, Lockley looks to pick up where he left off last season when he totaled 97 tackles with 7.5 of them being for a loss.

The one player the Owls have come to look up to is Marcus Bartles, a redshirt junior from Hollywood, Florida. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound safety may not look like a player that is a difference maker, but last season he became a starter for the Owls and posted 112 total tackles.

While the Spartans will be favored in the game, the Owls are not a team they should take lightly. In the end this will be a hard fought battle with the Spartans moving their record to 2-0 with a victory. Crystal Ball Prediction: Spartans Win – 35-16

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