If there is any team in the Big Ten that desperately needs a comeback season, it the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans suffered a mediocre 2012 season, going 7-6 and only appearing in a bowl because of a win in their season finale against a less-than-impressive Minnesota team.
The Spartans had one of the best defenses in the nation, but also one of the worst offenses. While they were ranked close the bottom(110th) in the nation in points per game with just 20, they ranked in the top-10 in defense with just 16 points allowed.
They lost five games by four points or less. With that being said, if they had any form of offense, they would have probably finished the season with one or two losses.
Well, the Spartans are in the midst of the offseason and the offense will look a bit different next season. This could be a good thing, however, as predictable offensive coordinator Dan Roushar left to take a job with the New Orleans Saints. Head coach Mark Dantonio hired former Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman as a co-offensive coordinator along with quarterbacks coach Dave Warner.
The other difference on the offensive side of the ball will be more drastic. Their leading rusher, Le’Veon Bell, has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. He was the main offensive threat for the Spartans in 2012, racking up over 1,700 yards, but being overworked in the process.
Andrew Maxwell returns at quarterback, that is, if he can keep his starting job. All of the receivers return and so does a majority of the offensive line. With most of the defense back as well, this Spartan squad could be a scary team in 2013.
They also have the strength of schedule is also on their side. Michigan State’s 2013 schedule does not include Ohio State, Wisconsin or Penn State– three of the conferences top six teams. Out of the other top teams, they play just Nebraska and Northwestern on the road. However, they have owned the Wildcats in Evanston, Ill., for the past few years.
No matter the poor season they had last year, the Spartans have a solid chance to make it to the Big Ten title game. If they win the games that they are supposed to win, and steal one on the road against Northwestern or Nebraska, or both, they can make the big game.
I’m not saying they would beat Ohio State in the title game, but I could see the Buckeyes playing for a national title and the conference runner-up playing in the Rose Bowl.
The 2013 season could be see their first appearance in Pasadena in over 20 years and, in my opinion, it will be.