Not a believer in the Michigan State Spartans in 2013? Join the club that includes nearly every fan of Big Ten football. Sure, they finished 7-6 last season with a pretty poor offense and an average, unexperienced quarterback under center by the name of Andrew Maxwell.
Don’t believe they can do well this season? I’m here to try and change that. Michigan State is returning 15 starters from last year’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl title and, although that doesn’t seem very impressive, they are one of my favorites to win the Big Ten title this season.
Actually, the Spartans have been a favorite since Mark Dantonio took over as head coach in 2007, leading this team to six straight bowl games and a 51-28 record during that stretch.
Returning eight starters on a presumably poor offense from 2012 is actually more of a blessing than a curse. Most people would think that losing a bunch of poor starters would be a good thing, but these guys are far from poor. In fact, they are all solid weapons. Maxwell may be the starting quarterback for right now, but he’s got experience now and with a bit more confidence, he can do great things.
People seem to forget, he was projected to be better than Kirk Cousins was for the Spartans before the 2012 season when he won the starting job. We all know how Kirk panned out. We can’t base everything on hype, but the only thing keeping Maxwell back was his confidence — or lack thereof.
The running game won’t be as good as it was under Le’Veon Bell‘s lead, but Jeremy Langford is a speedy back that could surprise some people this season. Don’t forget the experience of Nick Hill, and the hype that is freshman tailback Gerald Holmes.
Wide outs will be a huge key to this offense. Four of the team’s top five receivers are returning and they look to be far better than they were in 2012 — the coaches even claim they see drastic improvement and this could be the best WR corps in a while.
Returning all starters on the offensive line — when Fou Fonoti finally returns from injury — will help this offense vitally.
The defense speaks for itself. A top-10 defense from 2012, one that allowed just 274 yards and 16.3 points per game last season. With seven returning starters, this defense will be back and better than ever.
Five of the Spartans’ six losses from last season were by four points or less. I’m not saying they should have all been wins, but three or four more victories would have made a difference between being average and being a conference title favorite.
Yes, this team lost by a combined 13 points in five losses. Close calls that could make all the difference. Watch out for this squad in 2013. I say they finish 10-2 with no Ohio State Buckeyes or Wisconsin Badgers on the schedule.
Related: Michigan State Season Preview