Our college football analyst previews the 2016 season for the Michigan State Spartans. Go inside to read this enlightening article culminated by a college football futures pick.
2016 Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State is coming off a very successful 12-2 season in 2015. The Spartans won their second BIG 10 title in three years, and were part of the College Football Playoffs. Unfortunately, they were hammered 38-0 by eventual national champion Alabama in the national semifinal.
The football program at Michigan State has been resurrected under the guidance of head coach Mark Dantonio. This will be his tenth season at East Lansing, and he's gone 75-31 (.708) over the course of his first nine years. The Spartans have gone to bowl games in each of Dantonio's nine years in charge. The last three seasons have been exceptional, evidenced by Michigan State's cumulative 36-5 (.878) for that period of time.
This will be an extremely inexperienced offensive unit to start the year. They return just 3 starters from a season ago, and have to replace the most successful quarterback (Connor Cook) in its program's history. They do return their two leading rushers from 2015. L.J. Scott and Gerald Holmes combined to rush for a 1239 yards last year, and also ran for 19 touchdowns. There are a plethora of question marks regarding the offensive line, wide receiver positions, and at quarterback.
The defensive unit will be relied upon heavily, and especially so early on. They possess a 2nd team preseason All American in defensive tackle Malik McDowell. The linebackers will be rock solid led by senior Riley Bullough. Michigan State may have the best safety tandem in the country with junior Montae Nicholson and senior Demetrius Cox.
Michigan State is slated to meet just three teams this year that are ranked in the ESPN Top 25 preseason rankings. They'll square off with #3 Michigan, #8 Notre Dame, and #9 Ohio State. For the second straight year, #23 Iowa has been skipped over in their BIG 10 portion of their schedule.
If they can somehow win at Notre Dame on 9/17, the rest of their road itinerary looks to be less than menacing. They travel to Penn State, Indiana, Maryland, and Illinois. Their toughest conference games against Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State will all be played at home. They'll also entertain a tough-nonconference opponent in BYU and BIG Ten doormat Rutgers.
The Spartans will struggle offensively to start the year. Their defense needs to carry the load, and there's a distinct possibility of that unit wearing down later in the season. Keep in mind, despite being 12-2 a season ago, Michigan State won six games by 7 points or less. With all things being considered, I'll have a slight lean toward Michigan State going under 8.5 (-125) regular season wins for one of my early college football picks.