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ASU Football Opponent Primer: Michigan State Spartans

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Sparky vs. Sparty

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State 2019 Schedule

Kent State (Aug. 29) - Read

Sacramento State (Sept. 6) - Read

At Michigan State (Sept. 14)

Colorado (Sept. 21)

At Cal (Sept. 27)

Washington State (Oct. 12)

At Utah (Oct. 19)

At UCLA (Oct. 26)

USC (Nov. 9)

At Oregon State (Nov. 16)

Oregon (Nov. 23)

Arizona (Nov. 30)

Michigan State’s 2018 Season

The Spartans started the season as a top-25 team and were the first ranked opponent to be upset in the Herm Edwards era. After the team’s 16-13 lose to the Sun Devils, the Spartans finished the season 7-5 before entering their bowl game against another Pac-12 foe (Oregon). In the RedBox Bowl, the Spartans lost 7-6, pushing the Spartans to a disappointing 7-6 record for a preseason top-25 team.

Key Returners

QB Brian Lewerke- The Phoenix native returns for his senior year for the Spartans after playing in ten games last year. The junior captain threw for 2,040 yards with a 8-to-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also scored twice on the ground and once as a receiver. Lewerke’s season was the worst production he’s had since being named the starting quarterback after his freshman season.

LB Joe Bachie- The defensive captain, returns for his senior season after leading the team with 103 tackles and earning himself a First-Team All-Big Ten spot. Bachie has had two straight seasons of eclipsing 100 tackles for the Spartans. Bachie has been named to following watch lists: Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year), Butkus Award (nation’s best linebacker), Nagurski Trophy (nation’s most outstanding college defensive player) and Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Biggest Losses

RB L.J. Scott- The senior running back finished his Spartan career with 2,855 yards, 25 rushing touchdowns and lead the team in rushing for three straight years. An injury plagued senior season saw Scott suffer an ankle injury against Arizona State. Scott only played in five games and was one of the reasons why the Spartans were highly ranked in the beginning of the season. Scott retired in May 2019, two days after signing a contract to play for the Cleveland Browns.

CB Justin Layne- Layne entered the 2019 NFL Draft after his stellar junior season. Layne finished with 72 tackles, 16 pass deflections and was named second team All-Big Ten by the coaches and media. Layne was drafted in the third round (83rd overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Reasons why ASU Could Win

Last year, the Sun Devils put on a defensive performance in the fourth quarter. They forced the Spartans to punt on every possession in the quarter while cutting their deficit and walking away with the game winning field-goal. The Sun Devils defense is built around their linebackers who are all returning in key roles. The duo of Merlin Robertson and Darien Butler can give havoc to the Spartans offense.

Reasons why ASU Could Loss

Michigan State has something that Arizona State doesn’t have and that's a returning quarterback. Lewerke will look to improve off of his sluggish junior season and give his team a revenge win over his hometown team. The Sun Devils losses of N’Keal Harry and Manny Wilkins leave the offense with player getting all the touches, junior running back Eno Benjamin.