The Michigan State Spartans are entering a transition year, following an offseason that saw the team lose the best quarterback in the school’s history in Connor Cook to the NFL draft, along with a number of starters from both sides of the football. MSU’s first test out of the gate in 2016 will be the Furman Paladins, a small private school from the FCS division. With all eyes on quarterback Tyler O’Connor and how he will settle into the quarterback role, will the Spartans dominate the Paladins, or will Michigan State’s transition factor into their performance? Read on as we break it all down for you in the week 1 college football betting lines preview below.
Furman Paladins at Michigan State Spartans Week 1 Predictions
When: Friday, September 02, 7:00 PM ET Where: Spartan Stadium, Michigan TV: BTN NCAAF Lines: TBA
Why Bet on Furman
Coming off a 4-7 season a year ago, the Furman Paladins are pretty much an underwhelming FCS team, a key reason why both the league’s coaches and media picked the Paladins to finish seventh in the Southern Conference this year. Nonetheless, the Paladins tend run to multiple sets on both offense and defense, something that could confuse the Spartans and allow the visitors to register a couple of opportunistic scores. Not to mention, the Paladins are returning with six starters on offense and seven on defense, including senior safety Trey Robinson (a second-team preseason FCS All-American), meaning Furman will have a unit that is experienced and talented enough to make a game out of the largely inexperienced MSU starters.
Why Bet on Michigan State
Going by MSU’s struggles in the 2012 season when they had to replace a three-year starting QB, it makes sense that many pundits are choosing to be cautiously optimistic about the 2016 Spartan team that will be similarly replacing Cook, a three-year starter. This skepticism is, however, a bit overrated in my opinion. O’Connor is an experienced backup who’s been with Michigan State since 2011, including a good show in a road upset at Ohio State last season in his lone career start, so his transition to a starting role should be way better than is downplayed by his doubters. On top of O’Connor’s ability to settle into the team, the Spartans have a strong group of returning tailbacks– LJ Scott, Gerald Holmes, Madre London and Delton Williams–who are more than capable of befuddling Furman’s iffy defense. And even if the offense won’t perform that well, Michigan State’s defense—which has always been superb under Coach Mark Dantonio—will almost certainly keep the Spartans neck-high above the Paladins.
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With MSU breaking into new starters in several positions, things will certainly not be as smooth as they have been over the past three years. Still, we all know of how the QB situation was up in the air for MSU when the team made it to the 2013 Rose Bowl, so it’s not like Dantonio hasn’t been in this position before. In addition, Furman could only muster three points in its biggest game last season against Virginia Tech, a matchup that ended 42-3 despite the Hokies breaking into a new QB. Against a more experienced team in Michigan State and a talented QB in O’Connor’, who will be looking to make a statement as a trustworthy starter; I expect a bigger victory from the Spartans.