(Preview from The Sports Network)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ford Field (65,000) -- Detroit, Michigan. Television:ESPNU. Home Record: MSU 1-0, FAU 0-0. Away Record: MSU 0-0, FAU 1-0. Neutral Record: MSU 0-0, FAU 0-0. Conference Record: MSU 0-0, FAU 0-0. Series Record: Michigan State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Ford Field in Detroit is the venue for this weekend's non- conference bout featuring the Florida Atlantic Owls and the Michigan State Spartans.
The Owls kicked off their 2010 campaign on the road, where they prevailed 32-31 over UAB on September 2nd. It was a terrific win for FAU, which finished just 5-7 last season following an 0-4 start.
The Spartans also started off their season with a victory, as they registered a 38-14 home triumph over Western Michigan on Saturday. It marked the third season opening win in four tries under head coach Mark Dantonio, who is hoping to lead MSU to a better showing then last year's 6-7 finish.
The only prior meeting between FAU and MSU on the gridiron took place in '08, with the Spartans blanking the Owls by a 17-0 score.
The Spartans ran wild in the opener, as they gained 297 yards on the ground in a 38-14 win over WMU. MSU averaged 8.0 yards per carry and scored four TDs via the run. Freshman Le'Veon Bell headed the charge with 141 yards and two scores on 10 carries, while Edwin Baker added 117 yards and a pair of TDs on 17 attempts. They became the first MSU tandem to run for 100 yards in a game since '06. QB Kirk Cousins did a nice job playing off the running game, as he completed 13-of-21 pass attempts for 186 yards and a score. It was a good beginning for Cousins, who threw for 2,680 yards and 19 TDs in his first go- around as the starter in '09.
On the defensive side of the ball, MSU also did a solid job by holding WMU to 323 yards, including just 85 rushing. The unit forced three turnovers in the contest as well and that is especially good news for a group that had only 14 takeaways a season ago. Greg Jones, who logged 154 tackles last season, had a team-high nine stops to go with a forced fumble, while Colin Neely notched the squad's lone sack.
Trailing 31-26, Alfred Morris scored on 38-yard scamper with 2:20 remaining, helping FAU to rally for a season-opening victory over UAB. Morris, who ran for a school-record 1,392 yards in '09, finished the game with 103 yards on 16 carries. QB Jeff Van Camp also enjoyed a successful night, as he threw for 254 yards with three TDs against one interception. It was a good effort from Van Camp, who took over as the starter down the stretch last season. Lester Jean was clearly his favorite target, pulling in nine balls for 164 yards and two TDs. Jean, who hauled in a 77-yard TD pass, fell just short of the school- record of 183 receiving yards.
FAU's defense was gashed by UAB's ground attack, which was led by QB David Isabelle, as the unit permitted 345 rushing yards behind a 7.3 yard per carry average. Opponents averaged a whopping 220.6 ypg on the ground versus the Owls last season and they didn't look any bit improved in the opener. The defense, though, did come up with a big play when Brentley Harstad took back an INT 38 yards for a score to pull FAU within nine pints midway through the third quarter. It was the first INT of Harstad's career and it couldn't have come at a better time. The special teams however, still had to bail out the defense after the unit allowed UAB to drive 69 yards in the final two-plus minutes. UAB set up for a 28-yard field goal on the final play, but FAU was able to block the kick to preserve the one-point win.
Behind their electric ground attack, expect the Spartans to roll over a FAU squad that simply can not stop the run.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Michigan State 40, Florida Atlantic 13
Saturday, September 11th, 12:00 p.m. (et)