The Michigan State football team ended their season on a sour note, losing to Alabama 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day. Despite this, it was a very successful season in which the Spartans accomplished things that have not been done in a very long time. MSU won eleven games for the first time in the program’s history, as this was only the third time the Spartans have reached the double digit win plateau. Michigan State also won a share of the Big Ten Title for the first time since 1990, but was snubbed from a Rose Bowl berth based on their final standing in the BCS. MSU beat Penn State in Happy Valley for the first time since the Nittany Lions joined the Big Ten in 1990. The last stat being the biggest of all, as now Michigan State has turned the corner and knows how to win big games. I almost forgot also that MSU beat Michigan for the third straight year, something that has not been done since 1966-1968. All of these feats should give Spartan fans everywhere hope for the future, as MSU was considered by many to be a year away from having this kind of season.
Michigan State will have some momentum going into next season, but now they will be the hunted, instead of the hunter. It will be another completely different role for these Spartans, as they are used to being the underdogs and not the favorites. The pressure will be much greater next season, in which expectations will be sky high considering what the Spartans bring back on both sides of the ball. Kirk Cousins, B.J. Cunningham, Keith Nichol, Keshawn Martin, Larry Capper, Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell will all be back for an offense that finished 6th in the Big Ten in total offense. They will have weapons at every position, creating mismatches all over the field that will drive defensive coordinators crazy next year. I did not even mention the starters coming back on the offensive line, but who needs to when you will have these kind of athletes giving opposing defenses fits on Saturdays this coming fall.
On defense, the defensive line should be the strength of a unit that also finished 6th in the Big Ten in total defense. Defensive tackle, Jerel Worthy should assert himself as one of the best in not only the Big Ten, but in all of college football next year. Also returning up front are defensive tackles Blake Treadwell, Kevin Pickelman and defensive ends Tyler Hoover, Denzel Drone and Johnathan Strayhorn. The linebackers will take a hit as they lose two players, Greg Jones and Eric Gordon, who were the heart and soul of this defense for the past three years. The good news, last year’s 5 star recruit William Gholston will get more playing time and STAR linebacker Chris Norman is back after getting a year of starting experience under his belt. The secondary should be better next year, which is always a positive considering it is normally one of the weakest units on either side of the ball. Cornerbacks Johnny Adams and Mitchell White return, as well as safety Trenton Robinson.
It will be interesting to see what kind of recruiting class Coach Dantonio brings in this year, as he has become a very good recruiter in Michigan, claiming the number one player in the state for the last two years. MSU should be a favorite for the Big Ten Title next year, but it never hurts to keep bringing in athletes that can come in and compete right away.
About the Author
Written by David Lesmeister