Editor’s Note: This begins a weekly series of sports stories from Rant N’ Rave Sports–A Recreation/Sports website started by Michael DeWitt of Rockford, MI. http://rantandravesports.wordpress.com/
It’s almost that time of year again. Growing up playing basketball and golf, I was always excited for what the end of summer would bring… FOOTBALL SEASON! It’s no secret I grew up a “die hard” MSU fan, and nothing has changed. Much of my younger years were spent agonizing over Michigan State teams that continually underwhelmed and disappointed their fan base. Recent years has made it all worth it though. Seven straight bowl appearances, capped off by a history making RoseBowl victory last season. The Spartan fan in me can’t help but also bring up the fact that “Little Brother” has taken 5 of their last 6 meetings from their in-state rival and it looks as though they have traded programs and success for the time being.
I am not here to talk about past accomplishments though; I’ll save that for the Wolverine fans. I’m here to explain what MSU fans should expect for the 2014-15 season. It’s no secret MSU has now established itself in football circles. Along with OSU, they will be the faces of the Big10 this season, and an early showdown at #3 Oregon will hopefully give Spartan, and Big10, fans an idea of where the conference is at on a national power scale. The Big10 should have a bounce back season after being basically the nations laughing stock of a conference the past couple years. Lack of top 25 teams and horrible bowl records all contributed to this. 2014-15 will be the first season for the College Football Playoff (equivalent to the College Basketball Final 4), and the Big10 is in prime position with two teams, Ohio State and Michigan State, who realistically will aim to make their bid.
Game-by-game analysis of how the Spartans will finish up this season:
Game 1 – Home Game vs Jacksonville State. Spartans W 34-14. MSU has to shake off the summer rust against a feisty, high-tempo offense of JSU. Dantonio scheduled this game to test his defense before the showdown with Oregon. MSU will just be too much to handle for the small school from Florida as it solidifies it’s O-Line and LB positions. We’ll also get an early glimpse at highly touted freshmen Malik McDowell, Montae Nicholson and Enoch Smith Jr.
Game 2 – Away Game vs Oregon. Spartans L 24-31. Playing the Ducks early in the season when they have fresh legs is hard enough, but playing them at home will prove to be the dagger. It should be a back and forth game, but I see Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota making a few too many big plays towards the end of the game and the Spartans defense will struggle to contain him.
Game 3 & 4 – Home Games vs Eastern Michigan and then Wyoming. Spartans W 27-7 and then W 41-10. I grouped these two games together because neither team should pose much threat to the Spartans. They will be a little lackluster against EMU after their bitter defeat to Oregon, but they’ll get an ugly win. Dantonio will whip them into shape in their last game before the regular season and they’ll put a beating on Wyoming on Homecoming day at Spartan Stadium.
Game 5 – Home Game vs Nebraska. Spartans W 23-13. This will be an early top 25 matchup between Big10 teams. Nebraska and MSU matchup very well against each other and this year they will have many of the same strengths. Both will have solid QB’s, great running backs and great defenses. This will most likely come down to who plays better on special teams and wins the turnover margin.
Game 6 – Away Game vs Purdue. Spartans W 45-17. Purdue should battle for one of the last spots in the conference this year, and let’s face it, West Lafayette isn’t the toughest place to play. Spartans will have a breakout offensive performance and there will be a lot of playing time for second stringers to solidify the depth chart heading into the middle of the season.
Game 7 – Away Game vs Indiana. Spartans W 34-24. Indiana is a team flying under the radar. I like their coach, they have a very explosive offense that can put up big numbers, and if they can put together even a decent defense they will be a bowl team this year. Spartans talent, depth, and defense will win out in the end.
Game 8 – Home Game vs Michigan. Spartans W 24-13. Michigan will be a better team than the one we saw last year. Their defense will keep the game much closer than last year’s 29-6 shellacking. The facts that Michigan will be coming back to Spartan stadium, and MSU’s offense will undoubtedly be improved from last years, that combination will prove to be too much for the Wolverines. This will also make it 6 of the last 7 meetings for the Spartans.
Game 9 – Home Game vs Ohio State. Spartans L 31-21. This will prove to be too much of an obstacle for MSU. This will be the 4th game against a top 25 opponent (assuming UofM can crack the rankings by week 8) and after the emotional victory against the Wolverines the week before, Ohio State’s offense will have more energy than the Spartans defense can handle. This breaks my heart because it means unless OSU slips up later on they will probably play for the Big10 Championship, destroying MSU’s chances of making the College Football Playoff.
Game 10 – Away Game vs Maryland. Spartans W 38-14. It will be a Spartan welcoming party for the first year Big10 Maryland Terrapins. The Spartans will recover fast from the crushing Ohio State loss and look to end the season strong, trying to play in either the Fiesta Bowl or Orange Bowl.
Game 11 – Home Game vs Rutgers. Spartans W 28-10. Much of the same for the Spartans. The offense will continue to play well behind the arm of Connor Cook and legs of Jeremy Langford. Rutgers will also be making their first appearance in the Big10 and will not fare well in a division with OSU, MSU, and Michigan.