So, this might not be the best source for a Michigan State Spartans Football Preview. But, if you thought you were getting a top-notch ESPN-level football Preview from a LAW BLOG, your decision making is probably suspect. I’m writing this merely because I do get feedback from clients that read this blog saying that they like when I talk about non-legal issues and especially ones that connect with them and the state.
Last year was a great campaign for the Spartans, that goes pretty much without saying. Despite the Capital One Bowl loss (is that too nice of a word when you get beat 49-7 to Alabama? If so, have a look at the Thesaurus.com page for “decimate” if you need accuracy), a 7-1 Regular Season in the Big Ten is nothing to scoff at, even if the schedule didn’t include a loss-turned-vacated-win to Ohio State.
The success last year, to me, seemed like it was generated by having a much more balanced attack. When Edwin Baker can run for 1200 yards and a good chunk of TDs and do so relatively quietly, you’ve probably produced a balanced attack. Baker will likely continue that this season, but, chalk up a bit more media attention in the process. At quarterback, Kirk Cousins threw for a solid number of yards, good TDs, and established himself in the role. The Lansing State Journal is running columns asking whether Cousins is a legit candidate for the post-season Award for best Quarterback. Sure, it doesn’t the have the same je ne se qua as “Stanton for Heisman” buzz had, but, what it lacks in flair, it may make up for in substance, right?
Cousins is getting mentioned along with Andrew Luck of Stanford and Landry Jones of Oklahoma. That is pretty lofty company.
But, I’m giving too much praise to the guys that already get enough praise. That offense was good in 2009 and they still finished 6-6 in the regular season. The defense being noticeably improved last season is what really pushed that team forward. Chris L. Rucker being in the NFL can’t help the secondary, but, they return a lot of talent on the defensive line and I believe Rucker is the only guy they lose from the secondary. If the defense is as solid as they were at times last season, the Spartans should be able to get close to their success of last season.
Schedule wise, things are favorable early. In the non-conference, their biggest test is Notre Dame, but, I’d imagine there are some Central Michigan fans out there that would say the Chips shouldn’t get overlooked. In conference, starting with Ohio State is a good thing. I believe some of their players are still on suspension, but, it’s hard to keep track of with all the no good the Buckeyes are up to. The Buckeyes, with a new head coach, will be better by the end of the year, so playing them early helps. And, it’s hard to guess how they will perform with less ink on their bodies. So, chalk that up as a Spartans W.
I guess the best way to start looking at strength of schedule is through the non-division opponents.
The Leaders, if you will. With 3 non-division games, you want to play as many as possible out of Illinois, Indiana and Purdue, avoiding Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Michigan State only avoids one of those teams. Yikes. So, that makes their schedule fairly rough.
Nebraska and Wisconsin are getting the most talk for the top teams in the Conference. The Spartans have to navigate them back to back…
…in the same month where they’ve already played Ohio State and decimate Michigan. Kind of tough. But, if you’re through that stretch and have a pair of losses, or even only 1, the home-stretch of games are light and should be rather enjoyable.
Should be an exciting year for the Spartans as they come in to the year as one of the four
B1G Big Ten teams ranked in the Top 25.