1. Win the special teams battle – It’s going to be an uphill battle for the Broncos against Michigan State but one thing they can do in their attempt of an upset will be is to prevent the Spartans from gaining any extra yardage via kickoff returns. True freshman Brett Scanlon will be making his college debut, as he will be handled kickoff duties, and it will be essential for him to use his powerful leg to pin the Spartans deep on kickoffs. Another true freshman Fabian Johnson will be returning kicks and he must provide the Broncos with good returns to help gain as many extra yards as possible for an offense that will be facing one of the better defenses in the country.
2. Take care of the football. – It’s no surprise that the Broncos were 1-6 last season when losing the turnover battle. Against MSU they are going to have to limit turnovers and be perfect on offense and even force a few here and there to have any chance at winning.
3. Control the run. – With Jeremy Langford and Riley Bullough still battling for the top spot on the Spartans’ depth at running back, both will be looking to put up big numbers against the Broncos’ defense. WMU must keep these two in check to keep their defense fresh and help win the time possession battle.
4. Win the battle in the trenches. – Both the Broncos offensive and defensive lines are full with guys who have yet to see major playing time. Their youth and inexperience will be tested against the seasoned lines of MSU. Especially for the O-Line, they must not miss any assignments and limit the amount of penalties and keep Tyler VanTubbergen upright the majority of the game.
5. Start fast, finish fast. – No matter which way you look at it it’s going to be difficult for the Broncos to pull off the upset. However, they must continue to play the game like the score is 0-0 to keep the score from getting ugly. If they get down on themselves and don’t maintain their Prefontaine pace, the game could turn into a blowout real quickly.
Prediction: Michigan State 31, Western Michigan 13