NCAA Football – Week 1
Boise State’s graduating class from last year went 50-3. Kellen Moore was one of the biggest reasons for that amazing success. Still, Chris Petersen has built up a strong program and Boise and this team should still be tough in the coming years. Mark Dantonio has turned the Michigan State Spartans into annual contenders in the Big Ten. The Spartans lost some key players, but they return a nucleus filled with tons of talent. This should be a good game under the lights in East Lansing.
Four-year starting quarterback Kellen Moore is gone, as is first-round draft pick Doug Martin. Can Boise State absorb those losses and continue forward? D.J. Harper gives the team a terrific running back who should have a big year if he can stay healthy. Boise State needs him to stay healthy, since the team only has two non-freshman scholarship running backs on the roster. Joe Southwick is the new starter at quarterback, and he has some huge shoes to fill. Southwick is 40 for 54 passing in his career, but all that came during mop up duty. The good news for Southwick is he has a great group of pass catchers to throw it to. Matt Miller was a Freshman All-America selection, and he should lead the Broncos receivers this year. Kirby Moore, the younger brother of Kellen Moore, should see plenty of action on the outside as well. The offensive line has nine players who have at least some starting experience.
It wasn’t just the offense that had a lot of talent taken away after last year. Shea McClellin was a first-round draft pick as well, and the team will miss him in a big way. Tyrone Crawford and Billy Winn were both selected in the NFL Draft. This leads to Boise State’s biggest question mark in 2012, the defensive line. This was a major strength the last couple years, but it could be a weakness this season. The inside linebacker spots are a concern as well since depth is an issue at that position. The strength of the defense is the secondary. Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins are both solid cover corners and experienced players to lead this defense.
Michigan State lost a three-year starter at quarterback in Kirk Cousins. Andrew Maxwell will be the new starter. Maxwell doesn’t have the experience on the field, but the coaches feel very comfortable with his skills and knowledge of the offense. More importantly, Maxwell won’t have to shoulder the majority of the load. Michigan State has a tremendous offensive line and a great backfield. Le’Veon Bell and Larry Caper will be a great tailback tandem. Bell is the main runner, and he will likely be playing on Sunday’s in the future. Caper is a great third-down back who is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield. The biggest concern for Michigan State this year is probably their wide receivers. The team lost its top three wideouts from last season. The running game will be great, but the team will need some balance in the offense.
The Spartans defense looks absolutely tremendous heading into 2012. Cornerbacks Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard are so good that the team doesn’t need to run unique coverage packages to help them. These two are great cover corners who generally give the defensive front a couple extra seconds to get after the quarterback. Max Bullough is a leader at the middle linebacker position for the Spartans. Up front it is Will Gholston who should have an amazing season. Overall, this Michigan State defense is loaded with stars and tons of depth. They should be one of the best in the nation this year.
I don’t expect Boise State to fall off the map this year, but I do think they’ll struggle to equal their production from the last couple seasons. Michigan State certainly has the better defense, and I think that will be the big difference in this game. I think the Spartans cover.
Michigan State 28 Boise State 17