Western Michigan vs. Michigan State Betting Odds, Picks: Back Spartans in Blowout

Western Michigan vs. Michigan State Betting Odds, Picks: Back Spartans in Blowout article feature image

Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images. Pictured: Mel Tucker (Michigan State)

Western Michigan vs. Michigan State Odds

Friday, Sept. 2
7 p.m. ET
Western Michigan Odds
-105o / -115u
Michigan State Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

This intrastate Big Ten-MAC battle is between two teams that may be headed in opposite directions.

Led by Heisman contender Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State was a mainstay in the College Football Playoff rankings for most of last year. An 8-0 start generated plenty of buzz in East Lansing, resulting in a nearly $100 million contract for head coach Mel Tucker.

The Spartans would finish with two losses — to Purdue and Ohio State — but a victory in the Peach Bowl has the program on the doorstep of the national picture.

Western Michigan has also had success in the five years under Tim Lester. The Broncos have made a bowl in three of the past four years, but have not won the MAC since 2016.

After an astonishing upset of Pitt last season, Western Michigan would lose four games against the MAC West.

This may be a rebuilding season in Kalamazoo, as the top offensive weapons depart the program.

Western Michigan Broncos

For the first time since the pandemic season of 2020, Western Michigan will send out an untested quarterback after the departure of Kaleb Eleby.

Not only do the Broncos deal with losing their quarterback, but four of the top five targets are also no longer with the program, including Skyy Moore.

Lester returns just 21% of the offense, per TARP, wiping away top-15 ranks in Success Rate and Havoc Allowed. New quarterback Jack Salopek logged just five passing attempts last season.

While the returning experience is dire on the offensive side of the ball, the defensive side may be better equipped to start the season.

Coordinator Lou Esposito returns half of the team tackles and pressures recorded last season, but the back seven loses 70% of pass breakups. The strength of the 4-3 comes in the form of linebackers Corvin Moment and Zaire Barnes.

HIT. STICK. @zaire_barnes forces the fumble and @WMU_Football recovers! #LetsRide | #MACtionpic.twitter.com/vl0nX3yy6D

— #MACtion (@MACSports) October 2, 2021

Michigan State Spartans

The true definition of an upper-tier college football team is the ability to reload — and not rebuild — after significant losses. The Spartans will be without Walker and receiver Jalen Nailor this season.

Thanks to the transfer portal, the offense may not miss a beat, with running backs Jalen Berger from Wisconsin and Jarek Broussard from Colorado.

Broussard was one of the most elusive rushers in the Pac-12, averaging 4.4 yards after contact and recording 43 missed tackles on 156 attempts last season.

Jarek Broussard with Kenneth Walker III esque talent pic.twitter.com/zQSyOaUIo0

— 𝕊𝕡𝕒𝕣𝕥𝕒𝕟 𝔽𝕒𝕟 (@SpartyOn70) August 23, 2022

While Nailor departs from the outside, Jayden Reed returns with plenty of experience lining up out wide or in the slot. The junior is also one of the most explosive special teams players in Power Five, as Michigan State is expected to continue as a unit that relies on the big play.

Quarterback Payton Thorne led the Spartans to ranks outside the top 50 in Success Rate in standard and passing downs, but both the rush and pass explosiveness numbers were top-20.

The lunchpail mentality of the defense is expected to continue under Tucker and coordinator Scottie Hazelton. Only a drop in pressures is expected from last season's defense that finished top-30 in pass rush.

Improvements must be made in tackling and defending the pass, as both areas fell outside the top 100. Seven of the top eight tacklers return, all contributors in the Havoc department.

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Western Michigan vs. Michigan State Betting Pick

Some Power Five head coaches use non-conference games against FCS and Group of Five opponents as a glorified scrimmage to prepare for the conference schedule.

Tucker may be the complete opposite, going 4-0 against the spread in last season's non-conference slate. With Akron on deck, there is no reason to keep any of the playbook off the table.

Western Michigan would have a punchers chance with the return of Eleby and Moore, but the loss of those two players have depleted the offense called by coordinator Jack Thorne.

When asked about playing on the opposing sideline of his father, Thorne indicated there are no issues.

The Broncos will have their hands full in identifying playmakers and keeping Salopek in a clean pocket. Western Michigan will be replacing a center and both tackles on the offensive line,

The Action Network projects Michigan State as high as -28 in this opener, as the Spartans reloaded through portal. Meanwhile, Western Michigan looks in-house to replace a missing offense.

The Broncos do return a healthy portion of the defense, but the unit finished 116th in tackling and 112th in coverage grading, per PFF. More importantly, Western Michigan continues to finish dead last in Special Teams SP+ on a yearly basis.

Pick: Michigan State -21.5 (Play to 27.5)

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