Week 2 Game of the Week: No. 7 Oregon At No. 5 Michigan State
Amidst a plethora of high-stake matchups this week in college football, the No.7 Oregon Ducks will head to East Lansing to take on the No. 5 Michigan State Spartans for perhaps the most important matchup of Week 2.
Two top-notch offenses will be on display Saturday night.
Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and the Oregon offense will have its hands full against a Spartan defense that is labeled as one of the best in school history.
Despite losing running back Jeremy Langford to the NFL draft, the Spartan offense hasn’t skipped a beat so far this season as quarterback Connor Cook has already been labeled as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate.
In the first game of the season, the front seven for Michigan State were excellent. The leading rusher for the opposing Western Michigan Broncos was held to just 23 yards on eight carries.
Nonetheless, Western Michigan kept the Spartans on their toes as they accounted for 22 first downs and 24 points. The MSU secondary allowed Western Michigan’s top receiver to have himself a day to remember as he recorded ten receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown.
The special teams unit for Michigan State was also a bit shaky allowing a 100-yard kick return to WMU’s Darius Phillips in the first quarter.
Offensively, the passing game looked a bit shaky as Cook went 15-for-31 throwing for 256 yards and 2 TD’s.
Oregon’s season opener was a shootout as Adams Jr. helped the Ducks’ offense to put up 61 points against his former Eastern Washington team. The team as a whole rushed for 485 yards, 180 of which were accounted for by star running back Royce Freeman who also had 3 TD’s.
The Ducks defense had a much tougher time against EWU giving up 42 points.
In last seasons matchup between the two teams, Heisman quarterback Marcus Mariota led the Ducks to 28 unanswered points for a 46-27 win against the Spartans who led 27-18 at one point in the third quarter.
Now that Mariota is gone, it will be interesting to see how the Ducks adjust in such a big game against a familiar team who didn’t really lose many key components to graduation with the exception of Langford.
Players to watch for Michigan State include Cook, the leader of the Spartan offense, wide receiver Aaron Burbridge, the senior leader of the wide receiver corps, defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun, a top-tier tackler and one of the best defensive specialists in all of college football, and linebacker Riley Bullough who had three sacks in the season opener.
On the opposing side of the ball, Adams and Freeman will be the keys to the offense for Oregon. Defensively, keep an eye on defensive lineman DeForest Buckner. Buckner has a lot of the same qualities as former teammate and 2014 NFL draft pick Arik Armstead.
Looking ahead to Saturday, the Spartans will need to contain Freeman and the red-hot Oregon run game.
Between Madre London, TJ Scott and Gerald Holmes, Michigan State will need to establish the run against an Oregon defense that is still figuring itself out.
Oregon will have to come out of the gate looking polished and game ready. Michigan State will be the toughest test of Adams Jr.’s college career so it will be interesting to see whether or not he can continue to produce explosive plays in mass quantities.
The offensive line will have its hands full against Calhoun and the Spartans front seven and will need to work hard to give Adams Jr. time in the pocket in order to produce big plays.
Oregon will also look to tweak some imperfections in the secondary as the passing defense was a weak spot in the season opener against WMU.
Prediction: Oregon 34, Michigan State 27
Mike D’Avella is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Bleacher Report