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Boise State Broncos vs. Michigan State Spartans Point Spread - Pick

No. 22 Boise State Broncos (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. No. 13 Michigan State Spartans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Friday, August 31st, 8 p.m. EST
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
TV: ESPN
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: Boise St. +7/Michigan St. -7
Over/Under Total: OFF

The best game on Friday night’s day-two of college football’s three-day kickoff binge on opening weekend will feature two ranked teams both looking to replace legendary starters at quarterback when the No. 22 Boise State Broncos travel to East Lansing to play the No. 13 Michigan State Spartans on ESPN.

Boise State begins life after Kellen Moore’s incredible four-year career at QB, and with the 2012 opener just a few weeks away Boise head coach Chris Peterson has yet to name his replacement. Junior Joe Southwick (23-of-30 for 198 yards, TD in 2011) had a great spring game and expected to be named the starter, but inconsistency has led Peterson to keep the competition open with Sophomore Grant Hedrick, redshirt freshman Jimmy Laughren and true freshman Nick Patti.

But Boise State’s problems aren’t limited to quarterback, since the Broncos graduated the most successful senior class ever at the school after last season they return just seven starters total and only two on last year’s defense. To make matters worse for whichever QB wins the job, one of those returning starters, center Cory Yriarte, was injured during summer workouts and has yet to be cleared to play for 2012.

Michigan State also has the task of replacing a highly successful quarterback now that Kirk Cousins has moved on to the NFL, but unlike the Broncos the Spartans have already named Andrew Maxwell as the starter in his place. Maxwell will have a few familiar faces around him to help ease the transition, including running backs Le’Veon Bell and Larry Caper and three-fifths of the offensive line.

But what will likely help Maxwell the most will be the Spartans defense, a unit that returns eight starters from last year’s 10th-ranked defense and has All-American candidates at every level including the line (William Gholston), linebackers (Max Bullough and Denicos Allen) and backfield (Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard). It’s been Michigan State’s defense that has helped to propel them to an 8-1 record in one-score games the past two seasons, but without a reliable offense the Spartans defense will be expected to carry more of the load in 2012.

Most of the sportsbooks that already have a betting line open for this game are listing the Spartans as 7-point favorites at home. With kickoff still over two weeks away, the line has yet to move in either direction to help get a read on whom the early money is coming in on. The over/under total has yet to be release as well.

With no recent history between these two schools on the gridiron, following any of these teams betting trends could be a risky proposition. Boise is 4-1 ATS in their last five Friday night games, and 21-7 ATS in their last 28 road games, but that was with Moore at QB and mostly done in the Mountain West Conference.

Michigan State is 5-1 ATS in their last six games in Spartan Stadium. The over is also 9-3 in the Spartans last 12 non-conference games.

Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: With two offenses expected to struggle out of the gates with new leaders, the safest play for this game may be the under no matter how low the number is when it finally comes out. The Spartans are stacked on defense, and with a new quarterback and other new faces on offense I’d be surprised if Boise scores double-digits on them. I’m taking Michigan State minus the 7-points at home.

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