Michigan State Football Predictions
Michigan State has certainly been a force to be reckoned with the past two seasons. It earned a share of the Big Ten title in 2010, when it finished 11-2, and it won the Legends division last year, finishing 11-3.
Michigan State’s recent success has it in some elite company as it is one of only seven BCS schools to have won at least 11 games the past two seasons. Unfortunately, its string of 11-win campaigns figures to end in 2012 as the team must replace several offensive stars. It will be up to the defense if the Spartans are going to earn another Legends division championship.
Make no mistake about it, Kirk Cousins will be missed for both his play and leadership abilities. He helped Michigan State rank second in the Big Ten in passing offense last season.
Junior Andrew Maxwell is set to take over under center, but he won’t have the same proven playmakers to throw to that Cousins had last season. Wide receivers B. J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin have moved on to the NFL along with running back Edwin Baker.
Junior running back Le’Veon Bell is the team’s top returning receiver. He hauled in 35 passes for 267 yards last year. He also rushed for 948 yards and 13 scores.
Running behind an offensive line that returns four starters, Bell will have an opportunity to really shine. However, Michigan State must be able to trust Maxwell to stretch the field to keep defenses from loading the box in an attempt to slow down Bell.
This is the side of the football that will give the Spartans an opportunity to contend for a second-straight Legends division title.
Michigan State brings back eight starters from a unit that led the Big Ten in total defense, run defense, sacks and interceptions.
The defense is led by intimidating end William Gholston, who plays the run as well as the pass and commands extra attention from opposing offenses.
The Spartans are stacked in the second layer of the defense with anchors Denicos Allen and Max Bullough. Allen is the team’s top returning quarterback assassin, having recorded 11 sacks in 2011. Bullough is the team’s top returning tackler, having recorded 89 stops a year ago.
The secondary is strong as well with corners Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard and safety Isaiah Lewis all showing big play potential. Lewis is a big hitter who also picked off four passes a year ago.
Big Ten Legends Prediction: 3rd Place
The offense has taken a considerable hit, but the defense will again be one of the best in the country. The “D” will give the Spartans an opportunity for another quality season. I don’t see a second straight Legends title in the cards, however. The Spartans got Michigan and Wisconsin at home last season but must go to Ann Arbor and Madison this year. They’ll have a difficult time picking up those wins. Right after making those trips they get a Nebraska team at home that defeated them 24-3 in Lincoln last year. This stretch will likely determine if the Spartans will be playing in the Big Ten title game.
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