2010 College Football Predictions – Michigan State

After finishing the 2008 season at 9-4, the Michigan State Spartans took a step back in 2009. they finished the regular season with a 6-6 record and then fell below.500 with a 31-41 loss to Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl. after challenging for a Big ten title in 2008, last season’s results were a bit disappointing. Still, it was Michigan State’s third straight bowl trip. If the Spartans can become bowl eligible for a fourth straight season, it will match their longest streak of bowl eligibility since 1987-1990.

The Spartans lost three games by a total of seven points last season, so there is reason to believe they can improve in the win column. The league’s second-best scoring unit will do its part. The offense put 29.7 points per game on the scoreboard last season. in order to make a major turnaround, the defense must hold up on its end of the bargain. Michigan State especially has some work to do in pass defense. It finished last in the Big ten in that category in 2009, allowing 267.6 passing yards per game.

With seven home games, and a game they should win against Florida Atlantic in Detroit, the Spartans find themselves in good position to improve on last season’s results. However, a Big ten title appears to be out of reach. Sparty does avoid Ohio State, but it must travel to Michigan, Iowa and Penn State. An October 2 home game with Wisconsin will be no picnic either.

Offense: Led by quarterback Kirk Cousins, Michigan State will again be one of the premier offensive teams in the Big ten. Cousins helped the Spartans boast the second-best passing offense in the league last season. He threw for 2,680 yards and 19 touchdowns with nine interceptions. With so many talented playmakers around him, Cousins will put up even bigger numbers in 2010. Keshawn Martin stands out in the group because of his game-changing speed. That speed helped him average 22.8 yards per catch a season ago. in order to keep the airways free, the running game must be good enough to keep defenses honest. With Larry Caper and Edwin Baker returning, that should be the case. The running back duo combined for nearly 900 yards last year.

Defense: Defensive improvement is a must if Michigan State wants to enter any Big ten title discussions this season. The Spartans allowed seven teams to score 29 or more points against them a season ago. One player they can count on to do his part is All-American linebacker Greg Jones. He was an animal last season, recording 154 tackles and nine sacks. Jones made the most of his blitz opportunities to put up a nice sack tally, but he could use some help. Unfortunately, the Spartans have a lot of inexperienced and unproven guys at the defensive end spots. Someone, like Tyler Hoover, must emerge as a legitimate pass rushing threat or the Spartans could be picked apart through the air again.

Prediction: 6th Big Ten – Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Penn State are all more complete teams, and the Spartans will have the tough task of beating Iowa and Penn State on the road. Finishing better than 6th could very well depend on an October 9 meeting with rival Michigan in the big house. Michigan will no doubt be fired up for that one after losing in overtime in East Lansing last season. Be sure to check out my 2010 Big 10 football predictions to see how I have the rest of the league stacking up.

2010 College Football Predictions – Michigan State


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