Phillip Montgomery’s start at Tulsa produced 16 wins in his first two seasons. They ran the ball, they could pass the ball, and their defense was solid. Suddenly, the only thing they could do well was run the ball. Quarterback play dropped off, and the defense caved nearly every game. Now Montgomery finds himself in need of a bowl game desperately. They start their quest for six wins with a Big Ten opponent, and it’s tough to see them leaving with a win.
How to Watch: FS1
Start Time: 6:00pm CT
Line: Michigan State -23
Location: Spartan Stadium (East Lansing, MI)
Tulsa Golden Hurricane’s to Watch
QB Zach Smith
RB Corey Taylor II
RB Shamari Brooks
LB Cooper Edmiston
LB Zaven Collins
Michigan State Spartans to Watch
QB Brian Lewerke
C Matt Allen
DE Kenny Willekes
LB Joe Bachie
CB Josiah Scott
Why Tulsa wins
Simply because they’ve got nothing to lose. Is it possible? Barely, but that’s not stopping them from believing they can win. Tulsa’s so far under the radar that they could be the surprise team in the AAC this year. Michigan State gives them a tough test, but it’s not like the Spartans are unbeatable.
If Baylor transfer Zach Smith can cure the quarterback woes, he gives the offense a balance not seen in two years. Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor II are two of the best backs in the conference, and play well against any competition. Tulsa’s defense has playmakers to keep up with the Spartans offense, and a couple turnovers could swing momentum in their favor. It’s highly unlikely this one goes Tulsa’s way, but we’ll still learn a lot from this team in just one week.
Why Michigan State wins
The simple version: They’re easily the better team. Even with their offensive inconsistencies, the Spartans should win this one no problem. They have a defense that will keep them in games against Big Ten competition, so Tulsa shouldn’t give them anything they’re not ready for yet. Kenny Willekes, Joe Bachie and Josiah Scott are all the best players at their positions that Tulsa will see this year, and that should be enough to win.
Brian Lewerke returns as the starting quarterback for Michigan State. Injuries allowed backup Rocky Lombardi to take his spot and get experience last year. Lewerke’s the better quarterback when healthy, but also must work on a few flaws. He gets four of his offensive line starters back this year, and a handful of playmakers at the skill positions too. Simply put, the Spartans are too much.
You’d be crazy to predict a Tulsa win, and you’d still be crazy if you were right. Michigan State isn’t as dominant as it once was, but they’re still Michigan State. Tulsa can still be a surprise team in the AAC, but that might come later in the season. For now, they have their hands full, and could get overwhelmed early. MICHIGAN STATE 34 TULSA 17