2012 Opponent Preview: Michigan State

Submitted by Heiko on June 8th, 2012 at 2:05 PM

Michigan State

via BWS

Loves him that blitz. Recently Seth had the pleasure of spending some time at an airport with Michigan State LB Chris Norman. Norman, like any other high-profile athlete at a D-1 school, was well versed in giving vanilla answers to most questions about his experience as a football player, mostly some variation of "I'm just grateful for the opportunity, you know?"

No one had taught him how to respond to questions about the double A-gap blitz, though.

"Oh yeah, coach loves him that blitz!"

So I went back through the every snap videos from when they played Michigan in 2010 and 2011 to see exactly how much Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi loves him that blitz.

Two years ago it didn't appear much until the second half of the game. Aside from the two endzone interceptions, Michigan was having relative success moving the ball with quick passes and Denard being Denard. As soon as the Wolverines sputtered and fell behind and Denard got more and more beat up, however, Narduzzi got aggressive. He used the double A-gap blitz to disrupt the running game as well as prevent Denard from getting into a rhythm with longer downfield passes, and it was particularly effective because Michigan's receivers were dropping balls like pubescent boys late in the game, so they couldn't use quick passes to get around it.

Last year the Spartans applied the blitz early and often. They knew that Denard was still having issues with the pro-style passing schemes, and they knew Borges sure as hell wasn't going to be doing anything like throw a screen pass. The blitz stifled Michigan's ground game and forced Denard to throw downfield in the blustery trash tornado, which resulted in a stat line that was something like 9/21 for one miserable TD and 2 bona fide INTs (the easy one got dropped). It gave Rimington Trophy winner David Molk the worst game of his career. 

Water is wet. Since Narduzzi loves him that blitz so much, a dollar says Michigan will see it again. Obvious conclusion: Borges should design some plays to neutralize it. Please design some plays to neutralize it. Also, the offense should seriously spend some time changing up the snap count. 

The sun is bright. CB Johnny Adams has some serious 'tude. Dude gets pissy every time he gets blocked by Roy Roundtree. 

I am a jelly donut. Just wanted to reiterate what Brian said about Gholston not being that much of a factor in rushing the passer. Most of the time Gholston runs into Lewan and then makes a lackadaisical attempt to get around him. Maybe he was told to just contain Denard? Either way, hopefully this continues. His impact has been overstated by things he did after the whistle.

Surriously. Breaking news: Hoke takes the rivalry surriously. 

The actual preview part.

1000-foot view. 

Dear Trey Burke,

Michigan State has enjoyed a renaissance under Mark Dantonio with back-to-back 10-win seasons. With most of the starters returning from the B1G's most dominant defense, a lot of people have the Spartans pegged to beat Michigan for the fifth year in a row and win a B1G championship.

Can they? Michigan State has a lot of figuring out to do on offense if it wants to accomplish these goals. While talent may not necessarily be an issue, experience certainly will be as the Spartans break in a new quarterback and receiving corps. But questions on offense apply to every other B1G team in contention for the title, so while the Spartans don't possess an advantage, they aren't any worse off. 

Schedule. 

  • Aug 31 (Friday), Boise State
  • Sept 8, @ Central Michigan
  • Sept 15, Notre Dame
  • Sept 22, Eastern Michigan
  • Sept 29, Ohio State
  • Oct 6, @ Indiana
  • Oct 13, Iowa
  • Oct 20, @ Michigan
  • Oct 27, @ Wisconsin
  • Nov 3, Nebraska
  • Nov 10, WifeDay
  • Nov 17, Northwestern
  • Nov 24, @ Minnesota

One noteworthy thing about Michigan State's schedule is that their bye won't be doing them any favors. They'll have made it through most of their B1G schedule before the break, and afterwards they'll be facing (just) Northwestern and Minnesota. This is important because the Spartans generally make pretty good use of their off week. Last year they were able to rebuild their offensive line in time to beat Michigan. 

The Spartans have tough nonconference opponents in Boise and Notre Dame but benefit from facing them at home, where they've been undefeated for two seasons. Their only significant road games are at Michigan and Wisconsin, so despite a nonexistent bye, Michigan State will enjoy the benefits of facing most of the tougher opponents in East Lansing. 

Their schedule is as favorable as: Sitting in I-94 traffic two exits from the nearest bathroom. It's okay, the only thing you had to drink was ... that 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew half an hour ago. Uh oh.

*****

X's and O's, Jimmys and Toms

Offense

If Dayne Crist and Dan Persa had a baby together.

QB Andrew Maxwell takes over for the recently drafted Kirk Cousins. Maxwell has been in East Lansing for a while -- he's a redshirt junior -- but no one really knows anything about him. He appeared exclusively in garbage time last season (18/26, 171 yards, 1 TD) and was held out of Michigan State's spring game due to injury. The general opinion on him is that he has a better arm than Cousins, but it remains to be seen whether he has the same leadership skills and "intangibles." For what it's worth, he was a four-star to rivals back in the day.

At running back the Spartans return LeVeon Bell (948 yards, 5.2 ypc, 13 TDs) but lost Edwin Baker to the NFL. Bell's the tall one (6-2, 237 lbs) in case you get your Michigan State running backs confused like I do all the time. He's not as wiggly as Baker was, but he's a big homerun threat. Behind him is Larry Caper (116 yards, 3.9 ypc, 1 TD). While Caper's carries were limited last season with Bell and Baker splitting most of the work, he's a guy to keep an eye on. You can watch Troy Woolfolk bounce off him in 2009 if you're into reliving the worst moments of the RR era. 

The Spartans ground game lives and dies by its offensive line no matter who's carrying the ball, and last season it wasn't very good. They averaged 3.9 ypc, which was 77th nationally and worse than Illinois, who also had O-line issues. Michigan State returns most of its linemen this season, so the unit should improve, though the ceiling may be somewhat limited. Tom Dienhart from the B1G Network seems to think they're the best in the conference. That probably says more about the conference than it does about the Spartans.

And finally the receivers. They could be the most talented group of receivers in the B1G, but they're also the most inexperienced, since they're all either freshmen (Aaron Burbridge, Monty Madaris), transfers (DeAnthony Arnett), coming back from injury (Bennie Fowler, TE Dion Sims), or had four catches all last season (Tony Lippett).

Their offense is as terrifying as: A six-pack of expensive craft beer that has been discovered sitting in the garage for an unknown period of time. Fear level = 5 +/-3. 

-----

Defense

White pants after labor day was a bad choice.

Michigan State lost Worthy and S Trenton Robinson but return nearly everyone else on what was already one of the B1G's best defenses in 2011.

Formation notes: State plays a pretty standard 4-3 with a "star" LB/S hybrid position. 

On the defensive line the Spartans return DE William Gholston (67 tackles, 16 TFL, 5 sacks) and DE Marcus Rush (55 tackles, 12 TFL, 4 sacks). Both are coming off breakout seasons and there's no reason to believe they won't continue to run up their stats. DT Anthony Rashad White (25 tackles, 4 TFL) will play nose, and at 6-2, 320 lbs, White will be a force in the middle. DT Tyler Hoover will fill in at the 3-tech. He's the only question mark on the D-line since he's a converted defensive end and missed most of last season due to a fractured rib.

The real strength of this defense is in the linebacking unit, where Michigan State returns all three starters from last season: Denicos Allen (83 tackles, 18.5 TFL, 11 sacks) at SAM, All-B1G Max Bullough (89 tackles, 7 TFL, 3.5 sacks) at MIKE and Chris Norman (76 tackles, 6.5 TFL) at the WILL or "star." These guys are used very aggressively and account for most of the bad things that happen in the backfield. 

The Spartans secondary should also be the best in the B1G this season with CB Darqueze Dennard (42 tackles, 3 PBU, 3 INT) and All-B1G CB Johnny Adams (51 tackles, 6 PBU, 3 INT) and All-B1G S Isaiah Lewis (74 tackles, 3 PBU, 4 INT). The loss of Trenton Robinson could be significant, however, since he was reputedly a Kovacs-type leader for the secondary.  

Their defense is as terrifying as: Blue Cheese that has been sitting in the garage for an unknown amount of time and is now mostly green. Fear level = 9.

-----

Little giants.

K Dan Conroy (17/23) returns for his redshirt senior year as one of the best kickers in the B1G.

*****

Predictions

Record: 9-3 overall, 6-2 B1G. There are a bunch of tossups, but I feel like they'll split Boise/ND, Michigan/Wisconsin, and Ohio State/Nebraska. 

Against Michigan: If Maxwell and the receivers pan out, Michigan will be in for a rough game. I don't think anyone really thinks any of the O-line and D-line matchups go in Michigan's favor. There is also that silly stat that people say every year about "whoever gets the most yards on the ground in this rivalry will win," which, if you buy that sort of thing, doesn't bode well for Michigan either. It is at home, so the Spartans won't be able to get away with too many shenanigans, but that's little consolation when you wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of sweat because you were having nightmares about little green men piling on top of Denard and twisting his head off.

Recruiting, though. Man I love me that recruiting.

Their chances of winning the B1G are as good as: Making it to that bathroom before you piss yourself. 

Comments

jrblue

June 8th, 2012 at 2:30 PM ^

...they start the season 2-3 and end it with 5 wins.  A stout defense can cover a multitude of offensive sins, which should get them to 7 or 8 wins.  I will be holding a hope deep in my heart that the sparty golden age comes to an end this year and we will dine on their sweet, delicious tears.  I would prefer to start the feast with Boise State coming to spartyland and dropping 4 or 5 trick plays for touchdowns on their way to a complete behind the woodshed thrashing. 

M-Wolverine

June 8th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

Boise lost everything, and they have ND's number. I'd think they're biggest worries are OSU, Michigan, and Wisconsin. If Nebraska had lost last year or was at home, they'd be more of a worry.  Their season is based on whether they can flip one of those games to a win, or drop one to someone else to a lesser season. But I can't see more than 4 losses.

kmedved

June 8th, 2012 at 2:32 PM ^

Maxwell's obviously the wild card, but wiht the depth that they've built up in East Lansing, I suspect most of their attrition due to the draft/graduation will be surprisingly non-existent.

If Maxwell can play, they're probably the 2nd best team on the schedule after Alabama. If he can't, well then, uh, yeah.

 

Space Coyote

June 8th, 2012 at 2:51 PM ^

I believe Worthy played mostly the 3-tech.  White was injured most of there year but looked very solid in their bowl game.  We'll see if he can maintain that level without having Worthy next to him.  Their D-ends should be receiving more focus now, so I pretty much expect their numbers to be about even (players themselves improved, but not having Worthy to take blockers now).

I do think their secondary, while one of the best in the B1G, is susceptible.  While opportunistic (look at their Int. numbers), they are prone to occassional busts in coverage.  That being said, there are very few B1G QBs that can take advantage of that, and we have yet to see Denard have the time or the accuracy to take advantage of that.  Hopefully the O-line will have the double A-gap blitz figured out by then and Denard can step up and make solid throws behind the secondary.  There are both positives and negatives about how State pressured Michigan last year.  Pro: they really only were successful on one blitz play.  If Michigan can prepare for that, I would look for them to hit some passes and back the safeties up.  Con: they were continually beat with that play and never figured it out.

If that part of the offense can progress, Michigan should be able to score enough points to beat State (I still predict the winning team to have <~24 points in this game though) 

ChiBlueBoy

June 8th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

I think this all comes down to scheme and prep. The last few years, MSU has seemed to be better prepared than we are. I think now that the staff has a taste of what MSU's bringing, and with a game at home most likely not in a trash tornado, we have a better shot. Definitely a battle, however.

Also: Nice touch with the Jimmys and Toms.

Hannibal.

June 8th, 2012 at 2:59 PM ^

We are going to kick the shit out of Sparty this year.  They poked the hornets' nest last year.  Big mistake.  The last remaining thread from the Era of Darkness gets sewn up.  Book it.

NateVolk

June 8th, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

We got this one going away. Every guy that is gone for them was a huge thorn in our side.  Martin, Cousins and Worthy especially. Our main guys that got most of our yards are basically all back. Plus, this will be the biggest non-Ohio game on our schedule this year because of the last 4 years, and it basically decides the division.  

Until State replaces all that veteran talent and keeps chugging along seamless like a big boy program, why should we give them the benefit of the doubt that they are elite just two years removed from a losing season? Especially considering the pretty mediocre recruiting.

They should be respected, but this idea of fear in anyway is a bit much.

BursleysFinest

June 8th, 2012 at 3:39 PM ^

  I expect Ricky Barnum and the rest of the Oline to be severely tested with MSU blitzes up the middle, but I think we come out on top....I'm tired of my Spartan family members hanging football over me, I really really want this win, Lets Go Blue!!

jlcoleman71

June 8th, 2012 at 3:41 PM ^

He may be a decent QB, but I find it hard to believe that MSU has had a complete QB STUD just sitting on the bench for the last 2 years..........he's going to have to come in and produce from the very first snap......you have to expect that he'll struggle some in his first year as a starter.........I think MSU is getting too much credit.....7 wins max.

bronxblue

June 8th, 2012 at 6:17 PM ^

I was living in EL when Maxwell was being recruited, and the talk at that time was that he may have been a bit overrated.  He was a local kid (Midland), and the argument made was that the talent of his opposition might have inflated his stats.  He looks the part of an elite QB, though, and has a good arm, but the complaints seem to be that he never really challenged Cousins even when he wasn't the blue-eyed savior the past couple of years.

MGoneBlue

June 8th, 2012 at 3:51 PM ^

Their D-line will give us trouble at the point of attack, and our D-line should give them trouble at the point of attack.  Add in the fact that we've hopefully remembered how to contain the edge, and we should be able to contain their ground game.  

JT4104

June 8th, 2012 at 4:17 PM ^

2 things.....for this game. I dont think Gholston/Rush will be that big of a factor with Lewan/Schofield on the edges. In that game last year virtually all of the trouble came on the right side. lewan was a wall on the backside.

The other thing is that I am pretty sure that Fitz will account for more than 2 carries in the game and VS wont be our main back this time. The ability that Fitz has to make people miss will come in handy if Narduzzi wants to come up the  middle like a maniac again. Fitz could have a huge game getting to the 2nd level when the A Gap blitz doesn't work.

WolvinLA2

June 8th, 2012 at 5:58 PM ^

I'm not nearly as worried as you are.  Their OL was garbage last year, and although they return 4/5, Foreman was their best lineman and he's the one they lost.  Who replaces him?  And are those other guys really that much better after one year?  I doubt it, and I expect our front 7 to win that battle hands down. 

I also don't think they have as much depth as you suggest.  Since every team has injuries, whichever unit of theirs has an injury or two will be pretty weak.  If it's the OL or DL they're fucked.  Remember, too, that d-linemen usually rotate frequently, and their backups on the DL aren't very good.  If we can pound the ball and wear them out, we'll be in good shape.

ca_prophet

June 8th, 2012 at 8:13 PM ^

... so I'm thinking that returning 4/5 lineman from the unit that pretty much drew with ours is a win for them this time around.  For us to win, the coaches will have to do a really superior job with BWC and Morgan, otherwise they'll just pick on those guys and walk the ball up the field.

 

spartanfan123

June 8th, 2012 at 8:39 PM ^

Foreman was a tackle, which is much easier to replace than a gaurd. He will be replaced by Fonoti who started last year, and Conway who would have started the season if not for injury. MSU has 7 memebers of the OL with starting experience from last year that went down and then a few that redshirted. All 10 in the two-deep at the O-line could start. 

 

As for the depth, the O-line depth is solid. The spring depth chart only included 2-deeps, but those 10 could all start. Im not exactly sure what the 3rd string looks like yet. The DE depth is also solid, DT is a spot i would worry about on depth. After White and Hoover (mentioned in the article), you have Kittredge (transfer from Vandy), Micajah Reynolds who didn't really impress last year, and a few RS-Fr. Back to the O-line, TE is another spot where depth could be an issue. Dion Sims is a huge weapon (literally, 6-6 280), but MSU likes to play twin TEs, so the other TE as of now is converted DE Denzel Drone. We have a few freshman TEs and a JUCO TE so we'll see how that works out. Other than that, depth is pretty solid everywhere. 

 

Also, the O-line was good in pass protection, as they allowed the 2nd fewest sacks in the B1G (PSU was #1, but their QB barely kept the ball for too long)

bronxblue

June 8th, 2012 at 6:13 PM ^

I think this will be the last real year of MSU's "elevation" to the upper portion of the Big 10.  Their recruiting has been okay for a couple of years, but much of their player development has been taking high 3*/low 4*'s and turning them into performers.  Dantonio has not taken 2* kids and turned them into world-beaters, and with UM making such a statement with their recruiting the past two years, I expect the talent level in EL to fall and, with it, the performance of the squad.

I do think they'll make a run at the B1G title, and probably will be favored when they come to UM.  But as we've seen, historical success exists because it is consistent, and nothing with MSU feels like a nascent dynasty.

spartanfan123

June 8th, 2012 at 8:23 PM ^

I think all of the seniors that left ended up 2/3 stars in the final rankings, Jerel Worthy being the highest, a 3 star with a Nebraska offer. Dantonio is getting solid 3/4 stars now, and this class is his best yet, although obviously not on the level of UM or OSU, but they never will be.

Mr. Yost

June 8th, 2012 at 6:22 PM ^

The best 2 teams in the B1G reside in the state of Michigan.

The conference title, IMO, will come down to that game. I believe Michigan wins (barely at home). I've said that I think Michigan gets knocked off by Ohio on  the road, but it doesn't matter in the race to get to Indy because they're in the other division. MIchigan takes their 1 B1G loss, wins the B1G Championship Game and the Rose Bowl.

Finishes 12-2.

Sparty also finishes the regular season with 2 losses, they miss the B1G Championship game, and unlike Michigan last year, they miss the BCS too. They cry their way to Orlando for the Captial One Bowl (and lose). We hear all summer about how media, the football gods and everyone else loves Michigan and put them in a BCS Bowl and State got looked over. We smile, knowing Mike Hart is laughing.

Sparty Finishes 10-3.

 

Mr. Yost

June 8th, 2012 at 6:25 PM ^

MSU will have one more good/above average (for State) year next year.

Once Maxwell is gone in 2 years...it's back to 7-5/9-3 status. Back to Michigan, Ohio...one other team that's hot that year (typically Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn St. or MSU) ...and everyone else.

Back to normalcy.

spartanfan123

June 8th, 2012 at 9:58 PM ^

I was asking a serious question. What makes the OP believe that A) Maxwell will be good, most non-msu fans are holding out until they see him play and B) whoever Maxwell's successor is (connor cook, Tyler O'Connor, or Damion Terry.. all 3 who are highly rated recruits), won't be good?

allintime23

June 10th, 2012 at 5:08 PM ^

Some people feel like the recruiting talent that dantonio was able to get ahold of for free while RR was here is at its end. Since Hoke has taken over and really focused on the state of Michigan and Ohio the Spartans have suffered the most recruiting wise. The last two classes will start to come into play next year. It's harder to develop lower ranked players, especially when they're younger.

copemoney

June 11th, 2012 at 2:56 PM ^

The coaches have said Maxwell is further along than Cousins was in his first year starting.. and while MSU went 6-7 that year, Cousins threw for 2700 yards and had a 19/.9 TD/INT ratio..

 

I think most realistic MSU fans are thinking if Maxwell can produce those numbers, MSU will have a great shot to win the division once again

Bombadil

June 8th, 2012 at 10:52 PM ^

I hope Spartiocrity returns soon but I don't think it'll be this year. 10/20/12 is going to be a tough game to win. Their secondary and linebackers are going to keep them close in a lot of games.

Bodogblog

June 9th, 2012 at 8:02 AM ^

I think you have their WRs and OL overrated.

2 true freshmen and a sophmore transfer don't translate into the most talented group in the B1G, though it does highlight how crappy the league is this year at the position. I'd much rather have our guys.

OL as well, I don't believe they're that good. A second year playing together will help them, but the talent is middle of the road. As an aside to the Sparty poster, Foreman was a guard, and one of the most consistent OLs MSU has had in a while. That's a big loss.

I also believe folks are underrating Cousins and his hyper accuracy at times, as well as his senior QB smarts. With a good OC, they ran a lot of great plays to take advantage of defensive tendencies. If it wasn't there, Kork simply threw it away. Three years in the program is great, but Maxwell won't be nearly at that level this year, and may never get there. You never know how someone will handle pressure. Coupons was a very good college QB destined for back-up duty in NFL because he's intelligent and hates being hit. BJ Cunningham was also clutch and thrived in the go-to role. Those are huge losses and I expect their O to take a large step back. Load up to stop the run and you'll be successful, whether Maxwell can make people pay is anyone's guess. But as of right now the expectation has to be a significant drop in QB/WR play. The loss of leadership (at every position) on offense is also significant.

Their defense is going to be very good. Have to beat that 1on1 coverage deep. Also, need to run traps and counters up the gut, which Wisky did with success. I expect Michigan will be significantly better at Power this year, though lack of a reliable TE will hurt us. Fingers crossed that AJ Williams can block as advertised. Even barring that, Stephen Hopkins may be the most important non-Denard offensive player in this game. Those aggressive Sparty LBs, in their rush for BIG PLAYS, can be occupied and turned at the LOS, creating creases. And I agree with the poster who said Fitz will be much more of a factor this year.

Should be a good one, but I expect Michigan maintains control (though not overwhelmingly so) for much of this game. I think you'll see a lot of Power vs. Power from both sides, and Michigan wins both ends.

detrocks

June 9th, 2012 at 11:27 AM ^

I think that it's difficult to say how good MSU's program is and is going to be in the future.

On the one hand, I do think that their fans are a little irrationally exuberant over the last two years.   I mean, back-to-back 10 win seasons is a great accomplishment, but it needs to be kept in context.     If you look at both seasons, they really benefitted from a favorable schedule. Their non-conference schedules both seasons were a joke with the exception of ND, with whom they split.  

In 2010, they also benefitted from a down Big 10.   In 2010, only MSU, Wisconsin and Ohio won more than 10 games.   Outside of that, Iowa won 8 and no one else won more than 7.   MSU beat Wisconsin but missed Ohio.    They also had a number of close games-- ND, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Purdue (the PSU score was close, but that's only because PSU got some TDs at the end) and were blown out by Iowa (37-6) and Alabama (49-7).  2011 was more impressive though in that they beat 10 win teams in Wisconsin, Michigan and Georgia.    Still though, they've been a little fortunate on the schedule side.

That being said, they're a very solid program.    They've established a clear identity on offense and defense and have done well on both sides of the ball.   I also think that they're recruiting has improved a lot under Dantonio.   They're not at an OSU/Michigan level, but in their current class of 7, 5 of them are rated 4-star by at least one service.   They're also in on a couple of other highly rated prospects and could end up with a top 20-30 class.    They seem to be pretty stable-- which was not the case with clowns like JLS or Bobby Williams.    Also, while they're schedules may not have been that strong, 21-5 over the last two years is pretty good-- throw in the 9 win season in 2008 and 3 out of their last 4 years have been solid.

I see them as having the potential to be as good as Wisconsin or Iowa when Iowa was consistently good.   I don't know if they can attract enough talent to be a nationally elite program year-in/ year-out, but I think that consistently being in the 9 to 10 win range is certainly possible.   I just think that the program is too solid under Dantonio to think that they're just going to disappear.

 

 

 

 

    

spartanfan123

June 9th, 2012 at 3:21 PM ^

I agree with everything you said, theyll never be Elite unless everyone overacheives, and even then it wont be sustained.

But How was 2011 a favorable schedule? The non-conf was easy, but outside of that we had @OSU, @Nebraska, Wisconsin (twice), Michigan, and @iowa. 

detrocks

June 10th, 2012 at 5:31 PM ^

A couple of thoughts:

1)   I think that its less about the schedule and more about the state of the Big 10 the last two years.   Outside of MSU and Wisconsin, the B10 hasn't had another consistently good team.   Look at the teams that most college fans would associate with being the "elite" in the Big 10:    OSU was good in 2010 but collapsed post-Tatgate in 2011.   Michigan was mediocre in 2010 and good in 2011- but even then was still adjusting to a new O/D system.   Nebraska just joined in 2011.   PSU was mediocre in 2010 and not much better in 2011 (and we know how that ended).   The rest of the conference just wasn't very good.

Once again, that's not MSU's fault and 14-2 in a BCS conference is outstanding, not to mention three wins over 10 win teams in 2011 is great.   That being said, it would have been more impressive if that mark had come at a high point in the conference as opposed to where it is now.

2)   I don't know if MSU has to overachieve to continue to move towards elite status.  The program is progressing at a good rate.   The program is stable, the coaches and administration are excellent, the recruiting is improving and they're winning.   The challenge for MSU as well as Wisconsin and the other non-traditional powers in the Big 10 is can they continue to succeed as the traditional powers get their acts together?    

Just looking at the talent they're bringing in, both OSU and Michigan are raising their games.   I think that PSU under Bill O'Brien is going to be better than it was at the end of the Paterno era (that's just a guess of course).     And Nebraska will continue to be tough.    MSU, Wisconsin and Iowa have shown their ability to succeed at various times, can they contnue to do so as the traditional powers improve?

MSU has a shot because the program is improving.   Also, Mark Hollis (insert Trey Burke joke here) is one of the better ADs in the country.    He'll keep them competitive from a resource perspective.   I do wonder what they'll do when Dantonio leaves.   He's 56 and already had a heart attack.   Say he leaves in three to four years, what type of continuity will be in place?   Wisconsin was able to succeed because they had a succession plan in place after Alvarez left that kept things going.   I think State needs something like that too.   This is where having someone like Hollis in place will help.         

maizehusker

June 10th, 2012 at 10:47 AM ^

Narduzzi has out coached Michigan's offensive coordinators the last several years and I do hope Borges can better prepare for their aggressiveness this fall. Narduzzi's name being thrown around for the Texam A&M DC job makes me think he'll be poached off as a head coach to a BCS school by the end of this season.

Smash Lampjaw

June 10th, 2012 at 11:05 AM ^

At the risk of enlivening this aging thread with a new internet trash tornado, I will offer that its effect has been over"blown". If anything, I think the tornadic activity helped UM by limiting MSU's more dangerous passer and by mitigating their possible advantage in receiving against UM's pass coverage. Mistakes were more or less even, with Michigan's costing more. Two huge officiating calls worked in MSU's favor, but I would not trade those calls for the calls that worked to Michigan's advantage in the Sugar Bowl. The teams were fairly even last year and will be again this year. Let's hope the home field advantage is enough.