I have read in several places that Michigan State is a viable candidate for 3rd place in the Big Ten. All I knew was that they have some big shoes to fill now that Ringer is gone. Their starting quarterback left, but most are saying that his replacement will probably be a step up. I am still of the mindset that Sparty will eventually crash and I was thinking this would be the season. I began looking at their schedule and now I am convinced otherwise.
Their schedule looks like this:OOC
WMU and CMU
FCS Team - Montana State (7-5)BT Away
Purdue (9)BT Home
Ohio State (1)
Their OOC schedule is nearly identical to ours. Change CMU to EMU and sub in a slightly worse FCS team and you have our OOC schedule. Their Big Ten schedule is ridiculously in favor of them this year. They don't play OSU and they have PSU, Iowa, and Northwestern at home. Those 4 and MSU were the top 5 teams in the Big Ten last year.
QB: 2 sophs competing for starts
RB: 2 sophs and a senior competing for starts
FB: 2 seniors competing
WR: 3 returning, including Mark Dell and Blair White
OL: Return the Left side and center, A junior and sophomore take over on the right
TE: Return their junior starter
DE: 1 returning starter, 1 junior
DT: soph takes over
NT: returning starter
LB: returning Sam and Mike, 2 seniors competing for Will
CB: 2 returning starters
FS: returning starter
SS: junior taking over
Basically, look at it this way. Their offense is like ours in 2004. Young QB with a ton of good WR to throw to. New running back to fill a workhorse's shoes (ours was Chris Perry).
Their defense is returning 7 starters and filling the other spots with a sophomore, 2 juniors, and a senior. Mark Dantonio was the DC for OSU when they won their NC (only after McGahee blew out his knee). He is going to ride his defense this year for his record.
So, how does this affect Michigan? I think what will happen is Michigan will beat ND. MSU travels to ND the next week and I think they lose a close game. After that, MSU goes to Wisconsin, demolishes them, and then we travel to East Lansing.The Matchup
(4-0) Michigan @ (3-1) MSUMichigan on Offense
Our offense should be clicking at this point. However, this will be Tate's first away game and he will probably struggle against a staunch defense especially with 3 of 4 returning DBs. We will need to utilize a lot of quick slants and bubble screens in order to keep Tate from making mistakes. Brandon Minor is going to have to carry this team through this game.With half the DL being replaced, he should be able to get a pretty good YPC going, but I wouldn't expect too many long runs with the extremely experienced LBs.MSU on Offense
By this point we will know if their offense will go the way of Michigan 2004 or Sparty <Insert Year here>. I think they will be competent enough to put 20 points up each game, but not really blow anyone out of the water. The other unknown here is obviously our defense. Our line is almost completely rebuilt, we still don't know if our LBs will improve from last year, we have two safeties with no starting experience, and we have our third defensive coordinator and scheme in three years. Luckily, we start two 5 star recruits starting as our CBs and a former SS playing as our Sam. That should help us match up against their receivers and force them to take their chances running.Game Prediction
MSU 20 - Michigan 14
Originally, I thought we would win here. I think we still have a chance here (obviously, but i mean a decent one), but I think their defense will overpower us. Tate will have his worst game of the season going 1 TD - 2 INT, and Brandon Minor will have 100 yards with a TD.MSU Season Prediction
Well, I have already stated I think they lose to ND and then go on a rampage, taking down most of the Big Ten. After us, they travel to Illinois, where I think they come down from their high from beating 2 years in a row for the first time in over 40 years, and Illinois destroys them. MSU the rest of their games except PSU. PSU wins a close game in East Lansing. If MSU doesn't win 3 games in every one of those categories above, I will be shocked at first, but then remember it is Sparty we are talking about.Summary of Predictions for MSU
6-2 Big Ten
Losses @ND, @Illinois, vs. PSU
MSU 20 - Michigan 14