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2018

Michigan State

College Football

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Schedule

Michigan State football returned to national relevance last season and hopes to continue that path with a return to the Big Ten title in 2018. With 19 returning starters, there’s no reason the Spartans can’t do so, although Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State will have plenty to say about that and the odds have all three ahead of MSU. Still, the Spartans had the 11th-best odds in the spring at +3000 to win the National Championship (at 5Dimes Sportsbook).

The logical thought for MSU is that its offense will be much better in 2018 with another season under center for Brian Lewerke. The QB had some big games last year (20 TDs, 7 INTs, 559 rushing yards, 5 rush TDs), but was extremely inconsistent and that led to 23.1 points per game for the offense. The only real loss from the group is center Brian Allen, who is set to be replaced by his younger brother, Matt. Other than that, the line can be just as good as a year ago and the thought is LJ Scott should return to form after his career-worst 4.5 yards per carry last season. Scott is a likely future NFL running back and has the tools to churn out yardage even with Connor Heyward and Weston Bridges expected to steal carries behind him. Wide receiver is also set with all of the same guys in Felton Davis (55 receptions, 9 TDs), Darrell Stewart (50 rec.) and Cody White (35 rec.). This group scored plenty against weaker defenses and if that can happen against better teams, the Spartans can be a real threat.

That’s made possible because the defense should be just as good after allowing only 101.3 rushing yards and 20.3 points per game. Those numbers came even without much of a pass rush and 10 of the top 11 tacklers return. Every unit should be just as good if not better. The line is the bigger question and junior Kenny Willekes is expected to fill up last year’s holes in terms of getting into the backfield. There’s plenty of depth to go around since this unit was so young a year ago. It’s the same situation at linebacker led by Joe Bachie, while the back end returns all of its top guys. The secondary is deep and now has experience with Justin Layne and Josiah Scott headed for huge seasons at corner and the same can be said for Khari Willis and David Dowell at safety. It’s worth noting Mike Tressel was promoted to full defensive coordinator after Harlon Barnett went to FSU, but nothing major should change.

The Spartans had a few slip ups last season, but still finished with 10 wins and could easily do that again as long as they start on the right foot. That means taking care of business with two early road games at Arizona State and Indiana. If all goes well, Michigan State should be 5-0 heading into the trip to Penn State and anything can happen in that game after how the last couple meetings have gone. The Spartans have home games against Michigan and Ohio State circled and those will likely decide their season, but Nebraska has always given Mark Dantonio trouble. The Spartans will be a popular underdog pick because of the talent they return from a group that had 10 wins. There are some difficult games on the schedule, which means reaching 10 wins in the regular season may be the max. To fight for a Big Ten title and CFP shot, Lewerke will need to take the next step with accuracy.

 

2018 Michigan State Spartans Football Schedule

Sept. 31 vs. Utah State 

Sept. 8 at Arizona State 

Sept. 22 at Indiana 

Sept. 29 vs. Central Michigan

Oct. 6 vs. Northwestern

Oct. 13 at Penn State

Oct. 20 vs. Michigan

Oct. 27 vs. Purdue

Nov. 3 at Maryland

Nov. 10 vs. Ohio State

Nov. 17 at Nebraska

Nov. 24 vs. Rutgers


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