This is a preview of the upcoming Spartan season.
Returning starters: RB Le’Von Bell, LT Dan France, C Travis Jackson, RG Chris McDonald, RT Fou Fonoti, DEs William Gholston and Marcus Rush, LBs Denicos Allen, Max Bullough, and Chris Norman, CBs Johnny Adams and Darqueeze Dennard, safety Isaiah Lewis, K Dan Conroy, P Mike Sadler.
Strengths: The rushing attack should dominate as four guys who started at least 10 games return on the line, and the fifth starter, LG Blake Treadwell, started the first 3 at center. The defense returns 8 starters with legitimate Lombardi, Gholston, and Thorpe, Adams, candidates. Two of the others started games last year, DT Anthony Rashad White (3) and Tyler Hoover (1, with 9 career starts at strongside DE). Both kickers and the entire coaching staff return as well. Most of the starters on both sides of the ball have been with the program for at least three years.
Weaknesses: The entire passing attack has new starters at QB (Andrew Maxwell), WRs (Bennie Fowler and Keith Mumphrey), and TE (Dion Sims). There might be some growing pains. There will be a new starter at FS, junior Jarius Jones, though the guys he beat out, R.J. Williamson and Kurtis Drummond, will play. This will be a target for opposing offenses all year. The only long snapper on the squad is a 190 lb. true freshman, and there will be a new holder.
Overview: Outside of trips to Madison and Ann Arbor, the Spartans toughest games are in East Lansing, where the Spartans have not been very nice to visiting squads. If they can survive a brutal four game stretch with Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska, they’ll be headed to Indianopolis. From there, it’s anyone’s game.
Boise State: The Broncos are always tough, but this group is green, 7 starters back, and in a hostile environment. Spartans 17, Broncos 6.
@CMU: the Spartans have won in more hostile environments than this. Spartans 31, Chippewas 10
Notre Dame: New QB facing a defense determined to avenge last year’s debacle in South Bend. Spartans 24, Fighting Irish 13
EMU: Over before the first quarter ends. MSU 45, Eagles 0
Ohio State: As the Wolverines have been finding out recently, facing the Spartans in East Lansing in the fastest way to cool down a hot offense. Spartans 17, Buckeyes 3
Indiana: after an emotional win, these are the kind of games….sorry, can’t do it. Spartans 55, Hoosiers 0.
Iowa: Years past, MSU tended to lose the week before the Michigan game. Not anymore. Spartans 27, Hawkeyes 9
@ Michigan: The two top defenses in the Big Ten, sorry OSU, square off in an ugly game. Wolverines looking to avenge four straight losses, Spartans looking to make it 5 straight wins. Robinson seals the game with another late pick. Spartans 17, Wolverines 13.
@Wisconsin: Badgers look to avenge two straight regular season defeats. Spartans look to avenge the Big Ten title game. O’Brien, the new Badger QB, is interception prone. Not good against this defense. Spartans 21, Badgers 10
Nebraska: Spartans have never beaten the Cornhuskers, and by this point, the team might be running on fumes. Defense does it again. Spartans 16, Cornhuskers 12
Northwestern: After a month of emotional games, and talk of the national title, Spartans are facing a team that will be very upset minded. Wildcats also want to avenge three straight. They’ve also been a thorn in the Spartan side before. Spartans come out flat. Wildcats nearly end the Spartan home streak at 23. Spartans 30, Wildcats 24
@Minnesota: Starig into the face of a national title game, while playing an upset minded home underdog, Spartans actually let down their guard. They rally, but not enough. Gophers 24, Spartans 23
Big Ten title game: Badgers here by default, and O’Brien has visions of Gholston in his head. This gets ugly and Spartans make first Rose Bowl since the 1980s. Spartans 30, Badgers 13