Michigan State vs. Furman Prediction, Game Preview



Michigan State vs. Furman prediction and game preview for the opening contest of the 2016 season. Find out who’s projected to win the matchup between the Spartans and Paladins.


Michigan State vs. Furman Game Preview

Game Details


When:
Friday, Sept. 2 – 7 p.m. ET

Where:
Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.

Matchup to Watch

Tyler O’Connor vs. Critics

O’Connor last had his chance to win the starting quarterback job in 2013. He lost that battle to Connor Cook, who went on to become the winningest QB in Michigan State history while guiding the Spartans to a Rose Bowl victory, a Cotton Bowl win and an appearance in last season’s College Football Playoff. Now a fifth-year senior, O’Connor gets his shot to lead a program that continues raising expectations under coach Mark Dantonio.

When an injured Cook was forced to sit out against Ohio State last season, O’Connor threw a touchdown pass in a thrilling, rain-soaked upset of the Buckeyes. He beat out junior Damion Terry, redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke and freshman Messiah deWeaver for this year’s job, and he’s planning to remain the starter despite some believing he’ll be on a short leash.

Offensive Edge

Even with Cook, Big Ten receiver of the year Aaron Burbridge and first-round NFL draft pick OT Jack Conklin gone, the Spartans return plenty of talent on the offensive side of the ball. LJ Scott, Madre London, Gerald Holmes and Delton Williams lead a strong rushing attack that will be counted on heavily as O’Connor and a new group of receivers find their rhythm.

Furman coach Bruce Fowler hasn’t decided if senior Reese Hannon or junior P.J. Blazejowski will start the opener. Blazejowksi started two of the final three games for the 4-7 Paladins last season as Hannon recovered from injury. They combined for 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.


Advantage:
Michigan State

Defensive Edge

Lineman Malik McDowell has the potential to be an All-American for the Spartans and will be the anchor up front with Shilique Calhoun off to the NFL. Senior Riley Bullough leads a deep linebacker group that could include Ed Davis should the NCAA grant him a sixth year of eligibility after he sat out due to injury last year.

Furman allowed over 400 yards of total offense per game last year and lost leading tackler Cory Magwood to graduation.


Advantage:
Michigan State

Edge in Special Teams

Michael Geiger is one of the top returning kickers in the Big Ten and drilled the field goal as time expired that beat Ohio State last season.


Advantage:
Michigan State

Coaching Edge

Dantonio enters his 10th year in East Lansing and, depending who is asked, has made Michigan State an elite program. His motivation will be much of the same this season as the Spartans have another chip on their shoulders after being picked behind Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten race.

Fowler is 24-35 entering his sixth year at Furman looking to avoid a third straight losing season.


Advantage:
Michigan State

Intangibles

Furman’s biggest accomplishment last season was a 16-15 road win over Central Florida of the FBS, but Michigan State just has too much talent for it to pull off an upset of this magnitude.


Advantage:
Michigan State

Michigan State vs. Furman Prediction

The Spartans win this one easily.

Final Score: Michigan State 51, Furman 13


MORE: 2016 College Football Bowl Projections