Team: Michigan State Spartans
Head Coach: Mark Dantonio (7th year at Michigan State)
2011 Record: 11-3 (7-1 Conference)
Overall Head Coaching Record: 62-39
Coach Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State Spartans open up the 2012 season with a big-time nonconference meeting vs. Boise State. August 31’s home opener against Boise
marks MSU’s first-ever meeting with the Broncos and the Spartans’ first nonconference regular season game vs. a ranked team since 2006 when they suffered a heartbreaking 34-37 loss to #12 Notre Dame. The Spartans should come
out victorious this time around, however, as Boise loses QB Kellen Moore, RB Doug Martin, and 9 defensive starters in 2012.
To finish out their nonconference schedule, Michigan State visits Central Michigan and returns to East Lansing to face Notre Dame and Eastern Michigan. With Central Michigan recording only 6 total wins in the past two seasons and the Spartans looking for payback after last year’s shocking 31-13 loss to the Fighting Irish, the Spartans should start the season 4-0 heading into conference play.
Michigan State’s B1G slate provides no time for rest and relaxation, as the Buckeyes head to East Lansing for both teams’ first conference game of 2012. As difficult as the task may be, I am predicting the Buckeyes to come out on top in this September 29th matchup. If Coach Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s offense is as successful as all us biased Buckeye fans expect it to be, I see very few opportunities for the Buckeyes to lose this season. Defensive tackle Jerel Worthy’s absence on the Spartans’ defensive line will make way for our stable of running backs to break a few big-time runs.
One game I had a tough time picking is the October 20 matchup with in-state rival Michigan. Coach Brady Hoke is insistent on restoring a winning program and tradition to those rotten fans up in Ann Arbor, and don’t you for one second think he forgot about Michigan’s 3 straight losses to Michigan State from 2008 to 2010. Expect the big man in charge to have his Wolverines fired up for this one, but I could very well see returning bad boy DE William Gholston targeting injury-prone Michigan QB Denard Robinson early and often. In fact, I’d venture to say the odds of Robinson coming out of the game with an injury of some sort to be the favored bet.
According to Rivals.com, the 2012 Michigan State Spartans recruiting class is ranked 41st in the nation and 5th in the B1G. Impressively, the Spartans signed the #1 player in Michigan, WR Aaron Burbridge of Harrison High School in Farmington Hills. Unfortunately, Burbridge underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee about a week ago and will be out for at least six weeks. Expected to benefit from this setback is 2012 commit WR Monty Madaris of Moeller High School in Cincinnati, OH. Apparently a high ankle sprain has kept Madaris out of some practice, but expect to see this 4-star recruit on Saturdays soon.
Defensively, Coach Dantonio has been on record stating that the defensive backs signed in this class may be the best he’s ever captured. Highlighting the group is 4-star S Demetrious Cox of Jeannette High School in Jeannette, PA. Cox chose the Spartans over offers from the Buckeyes, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin. If the Spartans keep bringing in and developing talent like they have been, they will surely be an integral piece of the B1G’s plan to restore national dominance.
As I said before, DT Jerel Worthy is one of 3 defensive starters to leave in 2012. Worthy clogged a ton of space up the middle and will be truly missed. Offensively, QB Kirk Cousins and WR B.J. Cunningham do not return. Cousins brought two championship seasons to East Lansing and provided unwavering leadership. Cunningham leaves as MSU’s all-time leading pass catcher and is the primary reason Coach Dantonio addressed the WR group so hard in his 2012 recruiting class.
Overall Record: 10-2
Conference Record: 6-2
Offensive Team MVP: RB Le’Veon Bell
Defensive Team MVP: DE William Gholston
Week 5 Spartan-Badger Brawl Score: Michigan State 14 Ohio State 24
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