COMMENTARY| If only the Michigan State Spartans and Boise State Broncos could have opened the 2011 season, then college football followers would have seen Spartans signal-caller Kirk Cousins go head-to-head with another cerebral quarterback, Broncos star Kellen Moore.
But a year later, both are in the NFL pursuing what should be productive careers. Two of college football's good guys going onto the next level; it's hard not to respect what they accomplished during their collegiate careers.
When the two teams meet Aug. 31 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, each will have a new man under-center: Andrew Maxwell debuts for Michigan State, while Joe Southwick, according to reports, could be up for the Broncos.
As part of an ongoing series, we'll compare players, match ups and other interesting information.
Tale of the tape, QB style...
With Moore at quarterback, it's no wonder that Southwick saw little action. Arguably one of the most exciting players in college football the past two seasons, Moore was the undisputed leader of the Broncos. However, Southwick's stats suggest that he has a promising future: 73 percent career completion rate (40-for-54), 400 yards and two touchdowns, most of which came in mop-up duty.
Southwick could have an advantage over Maxwell, who has seen even less action. Just as Boise State relied on Moore, the Spartans moved as Cousins moved. But Maxwell earned his stripes -- and took some lumps -- as the Spartans were pounded 49-7 by Alabama in the 2011 Capital One Bowl. Probably best he got that out of the way early.
Did you know?
Southwick was the 23rd-ranked pro-style quarterback of the 2009 class. The three-star recruit hails from California.
Maxwell's career completion rate isn't as impressive as Southwick's. However, if Maxwell's 11-for-25 showing in 2010 is discounted, he's about on-par with Soutwick's 70-percent clip. Maxwell was 18-for-26 (69.2 percent) in 2011 with 171 yards and a touchdown.
Career-wise, Maxwell is 29-for-51, good for 294 yards and a score.
Did you know?
Maxwell was the ninth-ranked pro-style quarterback of the 2009 class. The four-star recruit hails from Midland, Mich.
A little side analysis...
Michigan State didn't dispose of opponents as easily as Boise State, making the need for Cousins more prevalent. But Michigan State plays in the Big Ten, one of the best conferences in all of college football. To a point, numbers can be compared -- but the level of play between Michigan and Wisconsin is drastically different than that of UNLV and Fresno State.
With Georgia as a common opponent, there is at least one way to compare the teams. But, as mentioned, each lost its starting quarterback to graduation and the NFL and played Georgia at different times during the year. There are too many variables for a realistic head-to-head sampling. Fans will find out Aug. 31.
Boise State manhandled the Bulldogs in a 35-21 season-opening win in 2011. The Broncos aren't intimidated. That's what makes them such a dangerous opponent. Michigan State escaped with a 33-30 win in the 2012 Outback Bowl over a Aaron Murray-led Bulldogs squad.
Which team do you think has the advantage at quarterback? Leave your feedback in the comments section.
There are other factors, of course, which I'll review in later posts. Stay tuned for more on Michigan State-Boise State.
Adam Biggers has followed NCAA football for over 20 years, specifically the Big Ten Conference and Michigan State Spartans. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.