By Quinne Lowe @sports_qa on July 23, 2014
After a successful 2013 season that culminated in a Rose Bowl victory, the Michigan State Spartans are out to prove that not only was last season not a fluke, but they are serious contenders to qualify for the inaugural college football playoffs in 2014. Here is a breakdown of the schedule and the challenges they will face if they want to represent the Big 10 at the end of the season.
MSU opens the 2014 season against the FCS program and should not have any problems of not only defeating them, but finding early playing time for some of the inexperienced players on the team. The primary goal of this game is to get out of it healthy.
The Spartans find out early if they are serious playoff contenders when they travel to Autzen Stadium to face the Oregon Ducks. Defensively, MSU has the talent to give the Ducks trouble, but there will be three new starters on the Spartan offensive line and this is not the ideal environment for their first big test of the season.
Week 3 against the Eagles will be a game where Coach Dantonio will be able to rest any nicks or bruises they sustained against Oregon the previous week. EMU is back to square one in trying to establish itself as a competent football program and will not provide much of a fight against the in-state opponent.
Week 4 against the Wyoming Cowboys is Michigan State's final warm-up game before heading into the Big 10 Conference schedule, and while the Cowboys will provide more of a challenge than EMU did in Week 3, this is a game that should be decided before halftime.
The match-up against the Cornhuskers is strength vs. strength as MSU prides itself on being able to stop the run while Nebraska will look to counter that strength with the talented Ameer Abdullah and Imani Cross. The game will be decided by whoever is able to neutralize the other aspects of their opponent and unlike in past years, the Spartan offense is good enough to win games by itself.
Road games are never easy in conference play and it will be interesting to see where second year head coach Darrel Hazell has the Purdue program. Quarterback Danny Etling showed promise last season, but the Spartans have a defense and rush offense that could be too much to overcome.
After playing Oregon, the Spartans defense will have an idea of what it is to face an uptempo offense with a lot of weapons. Losing Tre Roberson will alter some of the things that head coach Kevin Wilson will do, but the team is still talented. The question is can they stop anyone? Indiana surrendered 42 points last season to a Spartan offense that was still learning itself; what will happen this year against a more experienced unit?
After an embarrassing 29-6 defeat the Wolverines will be looking for revenge and while their offense will be improved with Doug Nussmeier being hired as new offensive coordinator, Michigan has to show that it has toughened up on both sides of the ball if it wants to compete with the Spartans.
The game versus the Buckeyes could very well determine who wins the East Division and while Ohio State's front four defensively, and Braxton Miller, will be tough to overcome, the Spartans are no slouch themselves. The victor could be decided by whoever is able to establish the run and wins the turnover battle.
New to the conference, Maryland returns 87 percent of its two-deep and could provide a tougher road challenge for the Spartans than most think. But in order to pull off the upset, the Terrapins must show growth as a team considering they only won three games in the less competitive ACC last season.
The Spartans host the other newcomer to the conference in Rutgers and unlike Maryland, who had big conference talent, the Scarlet Knights have to prove that they can be competitive and weren't added to the conference just because of the New York TV market. They return nine out of 11 starters offensively, but facing the tough MSU defense will be a major task.
MSU ends the regular season against Penn St. and new head coach James Franklin. While the Nittany only return three offensive starters, by this point in the season everyone should be entrenched in their position and inexperience should not be a problem. The biggest question for PSU is whether the offensive line has the talent to keep the MSU front seven away from quarterback Christian Hackenberg enough to outscore the MSU offense.
January 29, 2015 by Patrick Leiva
The ACC announced their conference schedule on Thursday, and Notre Dame's opponents should have plenty of preparation time for the Irish. Read More
January 29, 2015 by Nick Wilder
With a few challenging games on the schedule for Notre Dame in 2015, the Fighting Irish have to take advantage of their weaker opponents and win those matchups. Read More
Notre Dame will try to improve on its much-maligned defense in 2015 with help from several critical players who are returning next season. Read More
When Notre Dame faces its ACC opponents in 2015, the Fighting Irish will be at a clear disadvantage in almost all of their matchups. Read More
January 29, 2015 by RantSports Staff
The Texas football team had the honor of working out with comedian Kevin Hart. Read More
January 29, 2015 by Tyler Brett
Art Briles can't let go of how his team missed the 2014 College Football Playoff and it could impact Baylor negatively in 2015. Read More
January 29, 2015 by Shawn Spencer
With signing day less than a week away, time is running out for teams to make final pitches to recruits. Here are five players LSU hopes to have on campus in 2015. Read More
January 28, 2015 by Alex Drude
Matthew Mariota is not a QB, nor does he come with the accolades his older brother did. But if he can play ball, the Ducks will be happy. Read More
January 28, 2015 by Tim Letcher
One of the many charms of college football is that it has a number of great rivalries. Read More
The first two years of the Mark Stoops Era as head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats have been relatively good. Read More
January 28, 2015 by Jordan Wevers
The USC Trojans hope to fight on towards a final four appearance in the 2015 college football playoffs. Right now, a waterfowl stands in their way. Read More
January 28, 2015 by Tyler Brett
In their search to replace Marcus Mariota, Oregon would do well to secure the transfer of FCS star Vernon Adams. Read More