Reg. Season Records: 10-2, 11-1, 6-6, 10-2
SRS Rankings: 7, 15, 42, 22
Talking Point: Do they even play football up in East Lansing anymore? The biggest question for Michigan State is how they fare without Pat Narduzzi. The Spartans recent run has been built on defense. Now, the mastermind of that unit is gone. Add in the broader but related question: will Mark Dantonio’s success be sustainable with Michigan and Penn State rising from the ashes?
Why To Like Them: The Spartans bring back one of the country’s best quarterbacks, Connor Cook. They have a veteran, talented offensive line to protect him. On defense, they kept Shilique Calhoun on campus and should be solid in the front seven. That will take you a long way in the Big Ten.
Why Not To Like Them: The Spartans lose skill experience. Their top two rushers and receivers depart. Ed Davis’ season-ending injury means the Spartans lose three of their four best pass rushers. They also lose key safety Kurtis Drummond and first-round corner Trae Waynes with no obvious replacements. MSU still has quality, but the experience would have eased the defensive transition with Narduzzi’s departure.
Schedule: Reasonably difficult, by Big Ten standards. What may be Michigan State’s three toughest conference games – Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State – will be played away from home. They play Oregon non-conference.
Throwing Darts: As Michigan fans can attest, the Spartans do a proficient job beating the crappy teams on their schedule. Getting it done against the better teams has been issue. Michigan State played three decent opponents during the regular season. Ohio State and Oregon beat them by double digits. They nearly blew a 24-point fourth quarter lead to Nebraska at home. This is a strong, adept team. Not sure they have the fine tuning to raise things that extra notch. 10-2.
Random Alum: Tom Gores
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