No. 18 Michigan State kicks off its 2019 season Friday night by hosting non-conference foe Tulsa. The Spartans are 7-0 on Friday nights under coach Mark Dantonio.
Not As Bad As Record
The Golden Hurricane is coming off a 3-9 2018 season as it gears up for Michigan State to start off 2019. Do not let the 3-9 record fool you; this team was tough last year and played some very tough teams close. Four of their games were decided by seven or fewer points, including a loss to then-No. 9 Texas.
Quarterback Seth Boomer got his first college football action last year. He started in eight games, completing 51 percent of his passes while throwing for 1,378 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. He has been splitting first-team reps with Zach Smith so far in camp and in Tulsa’s spring game. Boomer does not pose much of a rushing threat as he rushed 58 times last year for 71 yards and one touchdown.
While Tulsa seems to be outmatched going up against a ranked opponent to start the season, don’t be so quick to jump at this one. With Michigan State’s instability at quarterback and the Hurricane’s proven ability to play tough teams close, this game could be on upset alert. I would be surprised to see a blowout in favor of Michigan State.
Looking To Bounce Back
Michigan State finished its 2018 season just 7-6, finishing fourth in the Big Ten East. Their Week 2 loss against Arizona State on a Saturday night set the tone for their up-and-down season. They were able to get big wins over teams like Penn State and Utah State, but ultimately losses against teams like Ohio State and Michigan kept them from a very successful season.
The biggest struggle for Michigan State last year was their inconsistency at the quarterback position. Brian Lewerke was their primary starter last season, throwing for 2,040 yards, eight touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He also ran for 184 yards and two touchdowns. When Lewerke struggled at times or was injured, Dantonio made the switch to their then-freshman quarterback, Rocky Lombardi.
Despite having one of the best football names I have ever heard, Lombardi did not have much success either and could never lock down the starting spot for himself. He ended up throwing for 738 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions.
With Dantonio calling the shots again for Michigan State, you cannot count them out of any game this season. Dantonio has an overall record of 107-51 at Michigan State and has always put a competitive team on the field, specifically on defense.
While I don’t think Michigan State is a true No. 18 team, at least until they can get their offense all on the same page, they should be able to get a win here against Tulsa. I would not expect this to be a blowout you would expect from an unranked team playing the 18th team in the nation to start the season.
MSU’s running game and defense have always been its backbone, and if their quarterbacks don’t give up possessions, they will get the win in what will likely be a low-scoring close game.