Odds and Schedule
OUt of nowhere it seems like, Michigan State has national championship aspirations going into this season. After an incredible 13-1 Rose Bowl-winning campaign, and being underrated for almost the entire season, the Spartans are getting some respect and many have them near this preseason’s Top 10.
Oddsmakers and bettors like Michigan States chanves this year. The Spartans are listed at odds of 27 to 1 to win the National Championship at 5 dimes sportsbook. The places them 10th overall, according to the odds.
Starting with their No. 1 defense from a year ago, they have some spots to fill with only five returning starters. Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Shilique Calhoun and Marcus Rush are going to be great on the ends, but everywhere else is depleted. Their tackles are new, their stud linebackers are gone and multiple pieces from their dominant secondary are gone. However, they had a great recruiting class and had plenty of depth last year that should fill in nicely, outside of a rather fresh linebacking crew.
The defense may not reach the same levels as a year ago, but on the other end, the offense should be improved with plenty of returning starters.
Connor Cook is back at quarterback and is the hands down starter in preseason for the first time in his college career. He finished with a solid 22 TDs and six INTs last year, also receiving MVP honors in the Big Ten title Game and Rose Bowl. He’s joined by running back Jeremy LAngford, who took over last season going for 1,422 yards and 18 touchdowns. Defenses have been able to focus on the MSU running Game for a good portion the last couple years, but that could change this season with a more experienced Cook. That should open up even more holes for LAngford, who rushed for 100 yards in eight straight Games last year.
The receiving core is also deep for Cook, led by Tony Lippett, MACgarrett Kings Jr. and Keith Mumphery. None of them are overly dominant, but they combine for a nice unit. The offensive line is MSU’s biggest concern with a couple starters leaving, but the new guys coming in do have experience.
The difference for Michigan State this year will be its difficulty in opponents. Having to go on the road to Oregon in the second week of the season will decide their national championship hopes pretty early. It’s going to be an incredible test for the revamped defense, but it won’t be one they back down from. As we saw last year in the Rose Bowl, MSU can fight with the top Pac-12 schools.
The only positive from their Schedule is that they’ll have a lot of their toughest Games at home, facing Nebraska, Michigan and Ohio State. Playing the Wolverines and Buckeyes in back-to-back Games is brutal, but they at least get a bye between them. Finishing up the season at Penn State will be tough, as the Nittany Lions are starting to come around again.
As long as Michigan State’s defense doesn’t completely fall off the map — and they shouldn’t — this team should make it to at least 10 wins. Of course, if Cook can pick up the offense just a little bit as well, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them in the Top 10 at season’s end.
2014 Michigan State Football Schedule
Aug. 30 vs. Jacksonville State
Sep. 13 at Oregon
Sep. 20 vs. Wyoming
Sep. 27 vs. Eastern Michigan
Oct. 4 vs. Nebraska
Oct. 11 at Purdue
Oct. 18 at Indiana
Oct. 25 vs. Michigan
Nov. 8 vs. Ohio State
Nov. 15 at Maryland
Nov. 22 vs. Rutgers
Nov. 29 at Penn State