Michigan State Spartans
Head coach: Mark Dantonio
2014 Record: 11-2 overall; 7-1 Big Ten
2014 Bowl: 42-41 Win over Baylor at Cotton Bowl
2015 Returning Starters: offense 6, defense 7
Odds to win 2016 CFB Championship: +2800
Odds to win 2015 Big Ten Title: +800
Regular Season Wins: Over 9 (-150); Under 9 (+120)
Bet these prop bets at 5dimes and receive a 20 percent deposit bonus!
Connor Cook is entering his third season as QB, and he’s poised to become the winningest QB in school history. He’s protected by a superb offensive line, and the school is looking to build on a successful 11-win season in 2014.
The Michigan State Spartans are really relying on someone to step up to to fill the void left behind by Big Ten receiver of the year Tony Lippett, as well as accounting for the 1500 yards rushing left behind by Jeremy Langford. The Spartans have options for both these roles, but the schedule doesn’t afford those options time to grow with a major test against Oregon coming on Sept 12 at home.
Connor Cook is an accurate and strong passer and led the Big Ten in passing yardage last season. He’s going to need a stronger and more consistent effort from Aaron Burbridge and R.J. Shelton, though, and the Spartans will look to extend yards after catch after struggling with that facet in 2014. TE Josiah Price will be a major target on third down and red zone opportunities, and the backfield hopes to shape up as well as Cook’s passing options.
TB is in the air with Delton Williams having faced suspension in spring. Madre London and Gerard Holmes are vying for touches and incoming freshman L.J. Scott will also be in the running for the TB job on the basis of his talent alone. The Spartans again have options, but are by no means dealing with a proven commodity in the same manner in which it was last season.
Michigan State has fielded a top-10 national defense the last four seasons and with a dominant four upfront it should continue. Big Ten DL of the Year Shilique Calhoun and Lawrence Thomas are on the ends, with two seniors Damon Knox and Joel Heath at tackle, flanked by All-American Malik McDowell. The OLB are Ed Davis and Darren Harris, with Jr. Riley Bullough also on the verge of becoming a major player in the defense.
The secondary is shaky, because it lost Big Ten Back of the year Kurtis Drummond and first round pick Trae Waynes is gone, too. Montae Nicholson and R.J. Williamson will play at safety, but the cornerback spots are not as solid. Adrian Hicks and redshirt freshman Vacant Copeland will be in the running for the CB spots as well as Sr Arjen Colquhoun. Really, there even could be some freshman in the mix for the CB roles, so it will be worth keeping an eye on if this instability and inexperience puts a hole in the Spartans’ otherwise solid defense.
Kicker Michael Geiger is coming off a surgery on his hip and redshirt freshman Jake Hartbarger is strong legged, but unproven. Macgarrett Kings Jr and Andre Sims Jr will look to return punts, and Shelton will return the kicks. He had a 90-yard score against Penn State last year.
Michigan State is very strong offensively with its best QB possibly ever, and the OL will ensure he gets his chance to shine. But the inexperience in the defensive secondary as well as the unproven options in the backfield on offense are going to haunt this team.
Michigan State is +550 on 5dimes to make the four-team playoff, and that has to be the goal for this team, even if it is slightly lofty. There’s too much experience to settle for anything less than being in the running for a title. 5dimes sets the bar at ‘9’ wins for an over/under, but it seems to be a pretty spot on mark as well.
Prediction: 9 wins.