Spartan Red Zone: Week 1 Preview

Andy Chmura: @andy_chmura

Last year, the Spartans often sank to the level of their opponents, causing nearly every game to come down to the wire. Whether they were playing the best team in the Big Ten or the worst, Sparty could never win by a large margin. This cannot happen in 2016–and I do not expect it to.

I believe that MSU’s secondary will play with chips on their shoulders. They will not surrender the long ball as easily as they did last year. I also expect Dantonio to come out firing; he will not simply take a 14-0 lead and turn on cruise-control from there. Rather, he will constantly press Furman and not play conservatively until MSU has a massive cushion.

The best thing Michigan State can do against Furman is play a clean game. They do not need to do anything fancy. Nor should they show Notre dame their best plays; save the inevitable fake punt for week 3. All the Spartans need to do is win the battles up front, defend the deep ball and lay off the flags. If Sparty can do this, there is nothing more fans can ask for.

Final Score: MSU 27, Furman 10


Brendan Wilner: @b_wilner16

Friday night, the lights come back on, and the 2016 season starts for Michigan State against Furman at 7pm. Last season, the Spartans didn’t always pull away from their opponents, but this season is different. The reigning Big Ten Champs will come out strong against Furman.

Look for the Spartans to mix in all three running backs early on to give them touches. Also, O’Connor will have to be smooth with the ball and not make mistakes. If he does that, there will be no question the Spartans win.

On the defensive side, there will be hungry men looking to make a statement early on. Fans will be excited to see them go sideline to sideline and make plays. They will have to show fans that they are here to play and are not messing around.

Overall, Coach Dantonio shouldn’t show all the plays in his playbook on Friday, but that shouldn’t matter because they will win easily. In doing so, MSU will make a statement to the whole nation that they are here to play.

Final Score: MSU 42, Furman 7


David Manion: @The_Manion1

Michigan State begins their back-to-back journey on Friday night against the Furman Paladins.

Despite playing an FCS team, MSU should not be tempted to look ahead to clash against No. 10 Notre Dame in week three. No. 9 Tennessee was caught napping against Appalachian State, but luckily survived a major scare in overtime.

Coach Mark Dantonio will feed LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes a feast of carries to firmly establish the ground attack. The Spartans should line up in jumbo formations, which will feature multiple offensive linemen as well as fullbacks Delton Williams and Prescott Line.

This will lead to sizeable openings downfield in the passing game, as the Furman linebackers will be spotted cheating up at the line of scrimmage. Fifth-year senior Tyler O’Connor gets the nod at quarterback for his first career start and doesn’t disappoint, completing some of the easiest passes of his life to wide open guys off of play action.

The defense will perform as advertised, only surrendering one touchdown all game. They will first and foremost set the tone by shutting down the running game. Despite an unproven defensive line, they will find plenty of action in the backfield along with the linebackers.

Michigan State will strike quickly and won’t look back. The Spartans are simply the stronger, faster, and more talented team on the field. They should easily cruise to victory as long as they have the mindset of keeping their foot on the gas pedal while proceeding games one by one.

Final Score: MSU 35, Furman 10


Matt Mika: @themattmika

The Michigan State Spartans open their 2016 season tonight at home hosting the Furman Paladins. Most MSU fans are wondering, ‘who is Furman?’ Well the Paladins play in the Southern Conference in the FCS. This season is the 111th time Furman football players have strapped on the pads. It is the first school in South Carolina (along with Wofford) to play football. Correct, the Paladins have played the game of football longer than both Clemson and South Carolina.

Furman has compiled a 591-462-38 record over that span, including one FCS (then I-AA) national championship in 1988, and two national runner-up finishes in 1985 and 2001.

Also — the FCS school has compiled 13 Southern Conference titles.

Michigan State needs to come out of the gates ready to roll. A slow start could hinder MSU in the long run. Maybe not in tonight’s matchup but down the road it very well could hurt their confidence.

All eyes are going to be on Tyler O’Connor. The new starting quarterback is leading the team for the first time in his career at East Lansing and the question still remains, ‘how will he respond?’

Expect a great performance by O’Connor. He is cool and poise and even though the Spartans are far superior on paper, MSU still needs to execute while limiting the number of mistakes. Building confidence is key for any team, especially a young team. This is a perfect opportunity for O’Connor and the rest of the Spartans to gain experience before heading to South Bend to take on Notre Dame.

Final Score: MSU 35, Furman 3