The Michigan State Spartans and Arizona State Sun Devils meet in a pretty intriguing out of conference matchup on Saturday night. There are some games that are going under the radar in Week 2 that could provide quality matchups. This is a rare trip to the desert for the Spartans, as they haven’t played Arizona State since 1986. They did a home-and-home series in 1985 and 1986, with both teams protecting home field. MSU picked up the covers in each game. The Spartans certainly didn’t cover in their season opener against Utah State last week. They didn’t even come close and are fortunate to win that ball game by a score of 38-31.
Michigan State needed a late score on a 13-yard touchdown run by Connor Heyward to go ahead with just 2 minutes left in the contest. Utah State couldn’t muster anything up on their final drive, but give them credit for going to East Lansing and competing with one of the best teams in college football. The Spartans are a dark horse candidate to reach the College Football Playoff.
To do that, they had to beat the Aggies of Utah State in Week 1. Voters would not have looked at that loss too kindly. They just had to survive in that one. It’s likely not going to hurt them that they barely won. If this was later in the season, probably, but if they play well against good competition, like Arizona State and in the Big Ten, it’s going to be irrelevant.
The Spartans just appeared to overlook Utah State at home last week. They may have been looking ahead to the Sun Devils already. While credit must be given to the Aggies, Michigan State is capable of playing much better football. Conversely, Arizona State rolled over UTSA like they should have done.
That’s one of those games the Sun Devils had to pound the opposition in Herm Edward’s debut at Arizona State. It set the tone for Arizona State going into a much trickier matchup against Michigan State this week. The Spartans will be fine with Dantonio despite sleepwalking last week, but I think it was important that Herm got off to a hot start against an inferior opponent. Michigan State will have to contend with quarterback Manny Wilkins, who got off to a nice start with 237 yards and 4 touchdowns. Head below for our free Michigan State vs. Arizona State and the rest of our writeup.
Michigan State Spartans vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Betting Odds:
Michigan State -5(-110)
vs. Arizona State +5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Michigan State vs. Arizona State Pick:
The Michigan State Spartans are a dark horse to go to the playoff, and they also have a dark horse Heisman candidate in their locker room. For MSU to get to the CFP, they are going to need quarterback Brian Lewerke to play like a Heisman favorite. The defense did not look good last week against Utah State, but I’m not worried about them too much. However, the offense has to be clicking on all cylinders for the Spartans to have a chance.
Lewerke passed for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns with an interception against the Aggies. LJ Scott carried the rock for 84 yards. I expect him to have a big year as the feature back in East Lansing. Lewerke put together some nice numbers in 2017, as he passed for 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also ran for 559 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. Lewerke has deceptive speed that the Sun Devils will have to be aware of.
The Spartans’ defense forced Jordan Love into 2 interceptions last Friday night. He didn’t connect in the end zone, but those 2 interceptions were the dagger for Utah State. The Aggies couldn’t get anything going on the ground, with Darwin Thompson leading the way with 28 yards.
No surprise there, as Michigan State ranked 5th in the country with 101.3 yards allowed per game on the ground. They also held opposing teams for under 200 passing yards per game. The defense returns nine starters and are going to continue to force offenses into errors. Look for them in the top-10 defensively throughout this season. Also, expect them to come out strong after a weak performance last week. Even though they allowed 31 points, they still limited the Utah State running game to virtually nothing. The Sun Devils are going to need to establish the run here, but it won’t be easy. Their offense is not designed to ignore the ground.
Wilkins and Arizona State are not generally used to playing physical teams. Or, at least, not physical teams like a Michigan State or others in the Big Ten. Washington is the exception in the Pac-12. Michigan State run the football and wear defenses out until it’s far too much to contain by the time the 4th quarter rolls around. The Sun Devils allowed 178.9 rushing yards per game in 2017 for 82nd in the nation. They will likely be better than last season, but LJ Scott and company are going to be a load for Arizona State to handle for 4 quarters. Dantonio is going to have this group ready to perform after a dismal effort vs Utah State in Week 1. I expect Michigan State to be way too physical for Arizona State, as they ultimately pull away in the 4th quarter to secure about a 10 or 14-point win in the desert.