clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

MWC Game Preview: No. 24 Boise State at No. 13 Michigan State

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Joe Southwick #16 of the Boise State Broncos . (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Joe Southwick #16 of the Boise State Broncos . (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Boise State head coach Chris Petersen delivered some good news to QB Joe Southwick Sunday: he is going to be the starting quarterback for the Boise State football team. Southwick also got some bad news with it as well: his first career start will be against #13th ranked Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. Southwick, 6-1, 187 lbs, has been the backup behind record-setting QB Kellen Moore for the past two seasons where he went 40 of 54 and put up 400 yards, two TD’s and only one interception. One of those passes was good for 78 yards.

"Joe knows our stuff really well," Petersen told the Detroit Free Press when pressed on why Southwick is the starter. "He knows how to operate as a quarterback."

Sophomore QB Grant Hedrick, 6-0, 192 lbs, will start as the backup and redshirt freshman
Jimmy Laughrea, 6-1, 200 lbs, will be third in the lineup. Nick Patti, the freshman QB out of Orlando, Florida, will redshirt.

Michigan State's sixth-year coach Mark Dantonio is replacing his own outstanding quarterback, Kirk Cousins, with fourth-year junior Andrew Maxwell. Dantonio’s Spartans also return an experienced offensive line. The one area of weakness and where the Spartans might be vulnerable could be at receiver. Unlike the Broncos who returned a lot of talent at both receiver and tight end, the Spartans didn’t. One Spartan receiver you can expect to see a lot of Friday night and who got a lot of attention in the spring was redshirt freshman Andre Sims Jr., 5-9, 180 lbs. He is rumored to have sure hands and a certain toughness on the field. But he is the lone standout so far in a field crowded with a new crop of wide receivers. As many as 10-12 players could be in the mix.

That is why the Broncos can expect the Spartans to rely heavily on their running game. They are much stronger with their backfield. One runner they will be throwing at the Boise State defenders is junior RB Le'Veon Bell, who is rumored to be poised for a breakout season. He could see the beginning of that season this Friday night if the Broncos are not on top of their game. You have to know that coach Dantonio and company is aware the Broncos have only two starters on defense from last year and the Boise squad will be loaded down with nine new starters who will be trying to cope with the Michigan State offense. But that is not where Michigan State has the clear edge. It is their dominating defense. Ranked 6th in the nation it is led by DE William Gholston. Last year the Spartan defense chopped up opposing offensive lines and racked up a Big Ten-best 45 sacks. This year Michigan State has nine of those returning starters back on that monstrous defensive squad so the Boise State offense better be bringing their A-game to the slug-fest.

Boise State has the talent to do that. In the passing game Southwick has an assortment of receivers to pitch to: Matt Miller, 6-3, 215, So.; Mitch Burroughs, 5-9, 193 lbs, Sr.; Kirby Moore, 6-3, 203, Jr.; and Chris Potter, 5-9, 159, Sr. His backfield will consist of D.J. Harper, 5-9, 205, Sr. at tailback and Dan Paul, 6-1, 262 lbs, Sr. in at fullback. At tight end will be Gabe Linehan, 6-4, 241, Jr.

Michigan State is coming off back-to-back 11-win seasons for the first time in school history and have set their goals to reach a Big 10 championship and a place in the Rose Bowl. Boise State was 12-1 last year and missed a trip to the Rose Bowl by a field goal loss to TCU and they share similar goals as the Spartans. Could the Broncos once again find themselves in the BCS hunt if they were to go undefeated and win the Mountain West championship?

Maybe, but first they have to prove themselves all over again and get past the Michigan State Spartans---Friday night, 6 PM MDT at Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan.

You can watch it all on ESPN.