Sunday, August 9, 2020

Gameday info for no. 19 Michigan State against Western Michigan

September 6, 2019
<p>Western Michigan cornerback Darius Phillips chases after senior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge on Sept. 4, 2015, during a game against Western Michigan at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Spartans beat the Broncos, 37-24. Julia Nagy/The State News</p>

Western Michigan cornerback Darius Phillips chases after senior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge on Sept. 4, 2015, during a game against Western Michigan at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Spartans beat the Broncos, 37-24. Julia Nagy/The State News

Photo by Julia Nagy | The State News

The 19th-ranked Michigan State Spartans look to improve to 2-0 when they host the Mid-American Conference's Western Michigan. Here are some things to know before Saturday night's matchup.

Who: No. 19 Michigan State vs. Western Michigan.

When: 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Where: Spartan Stadium.

Weather: Estimated 69 degrees at kickoff, according to Weather Underground.

TV: Big Ten Network.

Radio: Spartan Sports Network: (WJR-AM 760 in Detroit, WWMQ-FM 94.9 in Lansing. Full local listings here).

Spread: -16 Michigan State, O/U 46.5

Michigan State players to watch: Quarterback Brian Lewerke, defensive end Kenny Willekes, defensive back Josiah Scott.

Western Michigan players to watch: Quarterback Jon Wassink, running back LeVante Bellamy, tight end Giovanni Ricci.

Storylines:

RELATED: Western Michigan is up to the task against Michigan State's run defense

RELATED: Mark Dantonio doesn't "sandbag it"

RELATED: Spartans are ready for matchup with experienced Broncos

RELATED: With the help of Kenny Willekes,Jacub Panasiuk becomes a legit threat at defensive end

RELATED: Know Thy Enemy: Broncos looking for upset in in-state battle

Offense gets challenged:

Mark Dantonio called out his offense this week. Its performance against Tulsa on opening night was unacceptable in his eyes. In MSU's 28-7 win, the Spartans gained a total of 303 yards with only 108 of it coming on the ground — and without Brian Lewerke, it would have been significantly less. Running backs Connor Heyward, La'Darius Jefferson and Elijah Collins combined for 74 yards on 30 carries.

"Not good enough," Dantonio said this week during his pre-Western Michigan press conference. "We've got to get on the right people. As I just said, you've got to know where to go, you've got to play with effort and toughness. Too much of that to me was lacking. I'm going to call it as I see it up here right now, going to send a message to our football team. We've got a long season ahead of us. We can play much better than that.

"That message is going to get sent, whether it's public or not. I'm sure nobody appreciates us running the ball for (68 yards), especially the guy in charge. We'll fix that."

Defense ready for Act Two:

Michigan State's defense is adamant on following up its historic performance in week one against the Broncos. By now, it's well documented that the Spartans gave up a school-record negative 73 rush yards against The Golden Hurricane. Bellamy will provide a much stronger test against MSU's front Saturday night. Along with an experienced quarterback in Wassink, Western Michigan has the tools to make it a game on Saturday. It will be the Spartan defense's job to limit the senior duo.

Predictions:

Justin Frommer: 27-10, Michigan State

Amanda Poole: 28-7 Michigan State

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