San Jose State Spartans (2-1) vs. Western Michigan Broncos (2-1)
It is a battle of teams coming off closely contested victories when the San Jose Spartans take on the Western Michigan Broncos on Saturday. San Jose State defeated Hawaii last Saturday, 17-13. Western Michigan earned their second straight victory with a 44-41 victory over Pittsburgh.
The Broncos enter as 2.5-point favorites. These teams have not faced each other in the last 20 years.
Second Quarter Surge Propels San JoseThe Spartans trailed by seven entering the second quarter, but a 14-point surge helped lead the team to a 17-13 victory over Hawaii. Quarterback Nick Starkel led the team, throwing two second-quarter touchdown passes. Starkel finished with 235 yards passing. The Spartans earned the victory despite being beaten in every statistical category by the Rainbow Warriors.
The Spartans are being led by a stingy defense that is allowing 19.0 points and 345 yards of total offense per game. The team only has five sacks and two turnovers, but plays well to the ball. Kyle Harmon leads the team in tackles with 24. This is a defense that bends but does not break, as opponents are averaging 33:15 in time of possession per game, but are converting 32.6% of third-down conversions and the Spartans have allowed opponents touchdowns on three of their 10 red zone opportunities.
Starkel has been solid through the first three games, throwing for 937 yards and six touchdown passes. However, he is completing just 51.2% of his passes and has thrown four interceptions already. His primary target has been Charles Ross with 10 catches for 151 yards and a score. Tyler Nevens is the leading ground gainer with 27 carries for 149 yards and two TDs.
Broncos Hang on to Down PanthersThe Broncos survived a wild affair with Pittsburgh on Saturday as the Panthers rallied to tie the score 3 times and pulled within three with a little under four minutes left in the contest, but Western Michigan was able to hang on for the 44-41 victory. Quarterback Kaleb Eleby had a big day, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns. Corey Crooms had eight receptions for 161 yards and a score.
Western Michigan is averaging 28.7 points and 411.3 yards per game. This is a very deep Broncos team, with two running backs already over 200 yards rushing the season. La’Darius Jefferson leads the team with 222 yards rushing and has five touchdowns already. Sean Tyler has rushed for 217 yards and has a 5.6 yards per carry average. Eleby has completed 62.4% of his passes for 702 yards and five TDs. More importantly, he has yet to throw an interception this season. Crooms has 18 receptions for 279 yards and two scores.
The defense is allowing 29.3 points and 366 yards per game. This is a big play group, with eight sacks, two interceptions, and two fumble recoveries through the first three games. Ali Fayad leads the team with 2.5 sacks.
San Jose State:
- 7-18 ATS in their last 25 games in September.
- 4-10 ATS in their last 14 non-conference games.
- 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games against teams with a winning record.
- 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 games at home.
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games as the home favorite.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This has the makings of an exciting game. Both of these teams pulled off nail-biters last week and so it would not be surprising to see another close contest.
While San Jose State has the weapons, they also will make mistakes at times, especially Starkel. He is prone to force his throws, and his accuracy is questionable at best. That is not the problem for Eleby, who has been outstanding this season. Plus, he has the added advantage of a spectacular ground game which helps to draw in safeties, allowing him to look deep for open receivers.
Full-Game Total Pick
One thing we have seen from these teams through the first three games is that these defenses will allow yards. Opponents are able to move the ball, but have not come away with touchdowns. The Spartans have allowed touchdowns on red zone opportunities three out of 10 times while the Broncos have held opponents out of the end zone two of the four opportunities inside the red zone.
However, these are two offenses that can move the ball. The problem for the Spartans is Starkel and his accuracy. When he is on, he is good but has struggled against USC and Hawaii. Meanwhile, Eleby is playing very well. He put up 28 against Illinois State and 44 against Pitt. I like the over here.
Take Western Michigan to win, 38-28.