Western Michigan Broncos (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date and Time: Friday, August 30, 2014, 8:00 pm EST
Where: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.
TV: Big Ten Network
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: W.Mich. +27/MSU -27
Over/Under Total: 44.5
The state of Michigan will get to kickoff its FBS college football season
a day earlier then normal this year, when the Western Michigan Broncos
travel to Spartan Stadium to take on the Michigan State Spartans
in both teams season opener Friday night on the Big Ten Network.
There is hope in East Lansing this summer because the Spartans return 12 starters from last years underachieving 7-6 team, including quarterback Andrew Maxwell, and expectations are that theyll bounce back into contention in the Legends Division of the Big Ten Conference. This years campaign starts with a tune up against state-rival Western Michigan at home in Spartan Stadium, against a Broncos squad that went 4-8 last year with unanswered questions on both sides of the ball.
Oddsmakers opened Fridays game with Michigan State as large 27-point favorites at home, and the point spread has only moved a little if at all, up to -27.5 at a few offshore sportsbooks on the Web. The books that have released a total early are showing 44.5 on the board, but only a few houses are open and taking action on the total as of press time.
Normally a huge fan of staying away from a gigantic opening night mismatch featuring an AQ team-vs.-a Mid-Major, I gave this one a second look only because of the issues the Broncos are already facing in head coach P.J. Flecks first season at the helm.
Western Michigan was expected to put together a solid defense in Flecks debut, but stud corner Lewis Toler unexpectedly walked away from the team and linebacker Devon Brant tore his ACL in the spring, so two levels of the Broncos defenses will be missing their best player. Michigan States offense struggled last year with Maxwell, and frankly I wouldnt be surprised if Connor Cook is playing QB by the start of the Big Ten schedule, but the Spartans are still likely good enough to put up big yards and big numbers on Friday.
It doesnt get much better for Western on offense, as only one offensive lineman returns in front of QB Tyler Van Tubbergen as everyone learns the new system and playbook of coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca. The Spartans ended last year fourth in the nation and first in the Big Ten in points allowed on defense (16.3), and their trio of linebackers Max Bullough, Denicos Allen and Taiwan Jones could be the best in the country yeah, it might be a tough sled for the Broncos and Van Tubbergen.
For history buffs or trend players, these two last had a non-conference series in 2009-2010. Both games were big wins by Michigan State at home (49-14 in 09; 38-14 in 10), and both games were covers for the Spartans as 20.5- and 22.5-point favorites, respectively. In fact, MSU has won every meeting between these two schools going back to 1985 (6-0 SU), and theyve covered in every meeting as well (6-0 ATS) including as the same 27-point favorites at home like they were back in 1997.
Whats also making this look like a solid play despite the huge number is the fact Western Michigan has struggled against bigger programs in the past (4-10-1 ATS in L15 non-conference games), and Michigan State is a solid 4-1 ATS against the MAC in their last five tries.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This game has very little wagering value but if you have to bet it, take the points and bet WMU.
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