Game of the Day Preview: No. 24 Boise State at No. 13 Michigan State
But no one said it'd be easy.
The Broncos, who come in ranked No. 24, have been forced to replace four-year starter Kellen Moore under center and first-round draft pick Doug Martin from the backfield, while losing some key parts to the defense as well.
Sparty (No. 13) is coming off a season where it allowed 42 points to Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. That is not the kind of defense it likes to play, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the performance is still lingering in the back of every player's mind.
What to expect with Boise State: Coach Chris Peterson to air it out. Moore may not be the quarterback anymore, but the Broncos have a guy that can do everything he could in this type of system offense and more. Southwick is bigger, stronger and has the ability to move the ball with his feet.
In addition, Boise returns a good receiver corps that includes Matt Miller, Mitch Burroughs, and Moore's little brother Kellen in the slot. All will make Southwick a better gun slinger.
What to expect with Michigan State: A top-5 defense that lives up to the name. Finishing sixth in the nation and first in the Big Ten in total defense, Michigan State could be even better than it was one year ago.
The Spartans return a ton of experience to all three defensive units: The defensive line, linebackers and secondary all look extremely promising, led by four seniors and four juniors.
Prediction: Boise State has been a powerhouse mid-major program for several years now, but will have to take a seat and be on the inside looking out in 2012. This is a reloading season for the Broncos and there's no getting around it.
On the other hand, Michigan State is expected to contend with Michigan for the Big Ten Legends division, and some believe it could be a sleeper for the national title. The Spartans' defense will prove far too powerful against a depleted Boise offense and will overwhelm Southwick in his first collegiate start.
Michigan State 27, Boise State 10 -- via Week 1 predictions