Thursday, June 25, 2015

Geno's Five Non-Conference Games To Watch For- No. 4: Oregon at Michigan State

                              Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images

4) Oregon at Michigan State, Sept. 12, 8 p.m., ABC

In a game which turned out to have played a pivotal part in the selection of the four-team College Football Playoff, the Oregon Ducks and Michigan State Spartans exchanged leads back and forth in last season's meeting at Autzen Stadium.

Behind quarterback Marcus Mariota's 318 passing yards and three touchdowns, Oregon rattled off 28 straight points to come from behind and defeat Michigan State 46-27.

Fast forward to 2015 as these foes from different regions of the county will meet once more— this time at Spartan Stadium.

Oregon will have plenty to prove at the quarterback position after losing Mariota early to the NFL Draft, while Michigan State returns  its signal-caller Connor Cook for his senior season.

Did You Know?

The Ducks have won their last three regular-season non-conference games against current Power Five schools, while the Spartans have gone in the opposite direction losing their last two (Last Win- vs. Pittsburgh 17-13, Sept. 15, 2007).

All-Time Series History:

Oregon leads the all-time series 3-2 over MSU with both teams splitting the prior two meetings.

Players To Watch For:

Oregon junior quarterback Jeff Lockie:

Filling the shoes of Mariota will not be an easy task, but Jeff Lockie will look to keep things smooth and steady for the Ducks.

Lockie made a case for being considered the starting quarterback by throwing for 223 yards and three touchdowns in May's spring game.

Sophomore running back Royce Freeman: 

Royce Freeman could be a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy this season as he finished with 1,365 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns as a freshman.

Michigan State senior quarterback Connor Cook:

Cook will be the centerpiece of the Spartans offense in 2015 as he led the Big Ten in yards passing last season with 3,214 and threw for 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun:

Shilique Calhoun returns for his final season to lead Michigan State's defensive core.

Calhoun's impact came from tackles for loss, going for 12.5, to go along with 8.5 sacks as a junior.

Social Media:

Follow Geno Green on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.