MSU-Wyoming preview: MSU needs to stay on accelerator

By Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News

Wyoming players to watch

Shawn Wick, RB: The junior has been solid for Wyoming the first four games, running for more than 100 yards three times and ranking 28th in the nation. He is third in the Mountain West, averaging 101 yards. He enters today's game with 1,733 career rushing yards on 324 carries. Wick is 391 yards away from reaching the Wyoming top-10 list in career rushing.

Dominic Rufran, WR: The senior enters Saturday's game having caught at least one pass in 41 consecutive games, which is second in the nation among active players behind Boise State's Matt Miller (43 consecutive games). The only Cowboys receiver to post a longer streak was Jovon Bouknight, who caught at least one pass in 47 consecutive games from 2002-05.

Mark Nzeocha, LB: The senior has started 23 career games and is leading the Cowboys with 9.3 tackles, good for third in the Mountain West and 50th nationally. Along with seniors Jordan Stanton (134 tackles in 2013) and Devyn Harris, Nzeocha comprises one of the most productive linebacking corps in the country.


Keep it rolling: Michigan State proved in last week's victory over Eastern Michigan there would be no letdown after the loss to Oregon. But Eastern Michigan was a team lacking much talent and it was a one-sided matchup. Wyoming will provide a much stiffer test and it will be up to Michigan State to prove last week was no fluke and there will be no looking ahead to next week and the Big Ten opener against Nebraska.

Reunion weekend: It's homecoming at Michigan State and there will be plenty of former Spartans on hand, including current Cardinals QB Drew Stanton, who will be the team's honorary captain. Michigan State has won six of its last seven homecoming games.

Getting the nod: For the second straight week there likely will be plenty of position battles, especially on defense. LB Ed Davis gave way to Riley Bullough last week while Mylan Hicks continues to push Darien Harris. Redshirt freshman Jon Reschke is also pushing Taiwan Jones in the middle.

Heavy favorites: While Michigan State managed to blow past last week's 45-point spread against Eastern Michigan, it won't be as simple this week against Wyoming, even though that number is a bit lower at 32 points. It's not something the Spartans pay a whole lot of attention to, but considering they'll need to keep impressing the playoff selection committee, big wins won't hurt.

Championship pedigree: Michigan State isn't the only team boasting a successful pedigree. First-year coach Craig Bohl won three straight FCS national championships at North Dakota State before taking over for Wyoming. On top of that, he and his staff at North Dakota have spent time sharing ideas with the Michigan State staff.

Facts and figures

■ Michigan State has played 98 homecoming games and has a .668 winning percentage (64-31-3). Wyoming is the first nonconference opponent for a homecoming game since Penn State in 1952.

■ The Spartans have scored 145 points through three games, the most in history. Michigan State is first in the Big Ten and sixth in the nation in scoring (48.3 points). It also ranks 11th in passing efficiency (170.4) and 22nd in total offense (509).

■ Michigan State is first in the nation in time of possession (38:03). Under Mark Dantonio, the Spartans are 49-9 when leading in time of possession, including 36-6 since 2010.

■ Michigan State forced six turnovers against Eastern Michigan and are plus-6 through three games (nine takeaways, three turnovers). Last season, Michigan State was first in the Big Ten and 10th in the FBS in turnover margin (plus-13).

■ Michigan State is 8-2 against teams currently in the Mountain West Conference. The only losses came to Colorado State in 1998 and Hawaii in 2004.