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AT A GLANCE: Mel Tucker leads No. 15 Michigan State against Western Michigan

FILE Mel Tucker Big Ten Media Days Football
Posted at 5:11 PM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-02 17:11:48-04

Western Michigan (0-0) at No. 15 Michigan State (0-0), Friday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Line: Michigan State by 20 1/2 according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Michigan State leads 14-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Michigan State is hoping to exceed expectations, and the first step is to easily beat a Mid-American Conference team at home. Western Michigan beat a Power Five team last year at Pittsburgh, and would grab a lot of attention with another upset.

KEY MATCHUP

The Broncos’ passing game against the Spartans’ secondary. Michigan State ranked last in the FBS against the pass last year, allowing 324.8 yards through the air per game.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Western Michigan: QB Jack Salopek. The redshirt freshman was 3 for 3 for 20 yards at Pittsburgh last season, filling in for injured Kaleb Eleby.

Michigan State: WR Jayden Reed. The former Western Michigan player returned two punts for touchdowns last season and had team highs in catches (59), yards receiving (1,026) and receiving touchdowns (10) in his third year with the Spartans.

FACTS & FIGURES

Michigan State’s Mel Tucker was named Big Ten coach of the year last season after winning 11 games, following a 2-5 debut in 2020. ... Western Michigan coach Tim Lester is 32-25 in five seasons and is coming off a 52-24 win over Nevada in the Quick Lane Bowl. ... Michigan State has eight starters back on defense and five on offense. ... The Broncos return eight starters on defense and four on offense from last year’s team that was 8-5 overall and 4-4 in the MAC. ... Michigan State QB Payton Thorne broke a school record with 27 TD passes last season and will open against a team whose first-year offensive coordinator is his father, Jeff. ... Broncos WR Corey Croom had 44 receptions for 768 yards and six touchdowns last season. ... Michigan State has two RB transfers, Jarek Broussard (Colorado) and Jalen Berger (Wisconsin), competing for carries. ... Western Michigan RB Sean Tyler had 1,150 yards and nine TDs on the ground last season.