This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
As many of you may know, MSU was featured yesterday (7/14) as the number 31 team in the Rivals Preaseason Countdown. The preview is more of the same unwarranted (in my opinion) hoopla about how it's time to start "dreaming big" in East Lansing. While reading the preview, I naturally began comparing the breakdown with that of U of M. MSU was given the following grades: Offense B, Defense A, Special Teams A-, Coaching B+. U of M's grades are as follows: Offense C, Defense B-, Special Teams B, Coaching A.
While looking at these grades for each of the respective team's units, one grade really stuck out to me, and that was the B given to the Sparty Offense vs. the C given to the U of M offense. Some of you may think that a one-letter-grade discrepancy is not worth further analysis, but I think that, after reading so many unsupported and superfluous previews of the 2009 MSU football team, I finally reached my breaking point. I decided to do a little more research into the personnel that will make up each unit this season and came across the following:
|Carries||Net Yards||YPC||TD's||Carries||Net Yards||YPC||TD's|
|U of M||MSU|
As you can see, my analysis included only players that have contributed in some fashion during their career. The quarterback position is almost a complete wash as neither team has anything even close to resembling a proven player. Michigan absolutely dominates the running back position, having almost 2300 more yards, while having double the yards per carry numbers and over 6x more TD's than the returning Spartan ball carriers. MSU gains a little bit of ground back in the receiving department as they return more yards and yards per catch, though M returns more TD's from its group of WR's. Finally, I included TE's to be fair, and as you would expect, State dominated having roughly 4x as many yards and 5x as many touchdowns. This, however, is not an apples-to-apples comparison as the M offense puts nowhere near the same emphasis on tight ends as does the Sparty offense.
I would like to note that I did not include any offenseive line statistics as they are exceptionally difficult to come across, however I will mention that the offensive line was the "biggest problem" for both teams in the Rivals analyses, thus we can conclude that this area is roughly a draw.
Going a step further, if you want to include a high-level overview of incoming offensive recruits, M is bringing in 11 players with an average Rivals ranking of 3.8, while Sparty is bringing in 13 players with an average RR of 3.5.
Based on this analysis, I don't see any way imaginable that Sparty's offense can be rated a full letter-grade above M, and I hope that this provides further evidence that the unbelievable amount of optimism surrounding MSU football is both unwarranted and unsupported.