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Michigan State hosts Central Michigan, aiming to bounce back from bad season under Mel Tucker

FILE - Michigan State quarterback Noah Kim throws during an NCAA college football scrimmage, Saturday, April 15, 2023, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State opens their season at home against Central Michigan on Sept. 1. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

Central Michigan at Michigan State, Friday at 7 p.m. ET (FS1)

Line: MSU by 14 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook

Series record: Michigan State leads 8-3.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Both teams are looking to bounce back from bad seasons, which followed successful years. The Chippewas were 4-8 overall and 3-5 in the Mid-American Conference last year after a nine-win season. The Spartans were 5-7 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten last year, following an 11-win season.

KEY MATCHUP

Michigan State's passing game, with a first-year starter at QB, against Central Michigan's experienced defense may prove to be pivotal. Noah Kim or Katin Houser will succeed Payton Thorne, who transferred to Auburn, after playing sparingly. Kim threw one touchdown in three games last season in his third year of college. Houser had two pass attempts in one game last year as a highly touted freshman from California. The Chippewas have nine starters back on defense.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

CMU: DB Donte Kent. He earned all-conference honors last season after making 51 tackles and breaking up 15 passes. Kent, who has started 25 games in his career, is on the Nagurski Trophy watch list.

MSU: LB Cal Haladay. He led the Big Ten with 10 tackles per game last year, earning second-team All-Big Ten honors. He's a preseason candidate for the Butkus and Bednarik Awards and the Nagurski Trophy.

FACTS & FIGURES

The Chippewas beat the Spartans in consecutive years three decades ago and for a third time in 2009. ... CMU coach Jim McElwain is 24-21 over four seasons and has 68 career wins, including 22 at Florida from 2015-17. ... MSU coach Mel Tucker, who makes $9.5 million a year, is 18-14 over three seasons after going 5-7 in one season at Colorado.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll