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The first game of the 2012 college football season to match Top-25 teams comes in East Lansing on Friday night as Michigan State hosts Boise State, with the Spartans as a touchdown favorite on WagerWeb.com.
Boise State brings back only six starters, the fewest of any FBS team. The biggest turnover comes on the defensive side of the ball where Boise State will replace nine starters, including seven who signed with NFL teams.
But the biggest single loss was easily quarterback Kellen Moore, a four-year starter who was 50-3 in his collegiate career – that’s the most wins of any FBS quarterback in history. Moore, who threw for 14,667 yards, 142 touchdowns and just 28 interceptions at BSU, is now attempting to make the Detroit Lions’ roster as Matthew Stafford’s backup.
Junior Joe Southwick will be the new starter under center for Chris Petersen. In two seasons as Moore’s backup, Southwick completed 40 of 54 passes for 400 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
“He knows the stuff. He knows our system inside and out,” Petersen said. “And like we’ve said, there’s a lot there. And we’ll always pare our system to play to our quarterback’s strengths and how much a guy can actually learn and assimilate will dictate our game plans. But mentally, we can do as much with Joe as anybody we’ve had at this point.”
Michigan State must replace QB Kirk Cousins, the school’s all-time winningest QB. Andrew Maxwell, a former top recruit, finally gets his shot. He has completed 29 of 51 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown while backing up Cousins the past two seasons.
Friday’s game marks the first meeting between Michigan State and Boise State. The Spartans have compiled a 7-2 record (.778) against current members of the Mountain West Conference (0-1 vs. Colorado State, 1-0 vs. Fresno State, 4-1 vs. Hawaii and 2-0 vs. Wyoming).
At No. 13, Michigan State has its highest preseason ranking in the AP Poll since 1979. This will be just the ninth time Michigan State will open the season against an opponent ranked in the AP Top 25 and the first time since entertaining No. 15 Colorado State in Spartan Stadium in 1998. The Spartans are 2-5-1 (.313) in season openers played against ranked opponents. The Spartans have won 15 of their last 16 home openers, with the only setback coming to Colorado State, 23-16, in 1998.
The opener against the Spartans will mark the start of the seventh season for head coach Petersen, whose 73-6 record makes him the winningest active coach in the NCAA-Football Bowl Subdivision (.924). Petersen’s Broncos hold a 6-0 record in season openers, including victories over ranked opponents each of the last three seasons. Boise State began its march to a 14-0 season in 2009 with a victory at home against No. 14 Oregon. The 2010 campaign commenced with a 33-30 win against No. 7 Virginia Tech in Landover, Md. Last season the Broncos traveled to Atlanta and captured a 35-21 win over No. 19 Georgia.