What’s So Great About Michigan State?
Apparently, the Spartans are not going to miss Kirk Cousins, B.J. Cunningham, or either of their starting defensive tackles all that much if you subscribe to some of the rosier predictions being made about the men of green for 2012. The offense is supposed to be bolstered by its running attack. The only problem with that idea is that Michigan State finished eleventh in the Big Ten in rushing a year ago. Still, it's hard to argue that bringing back eight starters on defense and four starters on the offensive line won't make MSU a competitive team.
Getting Ohio State and Nebraska at home would seem like a positive. But OSU could be markedly better than the 2011 version that lost to the Spartans by a field goal. NU won by three touchdowns a year ago. Even with some regression by the Huskers, it's still hard to forecast a 22-point turnaround. Especially since MSU will be playing their tenth straight game without a bye.
Michigan State has a road date at Wisconsin, a team that similarly will be trying to break in a new quarterback. But Montee Ball seems a wee bit better than Le'Veon Bell at running back. Badger wideout Jared Abbrederis also seems like a better weapon than any Spartan receiver. Despite MSU's recent success against the Wolverines, you'd suspect that Michigan might turn the tables in Ann Arbor.
Add it all up and Michigan State looks like only a four or five win team in conference play. Not to mention that they face a pair of tough games at home against Boise State and Notre Dame. That seems like an eight win kind of season. If they win ten regular season games, then Dantonio should get a lifetime contract. It's not impossible, but don't bet the farm on it.