Photo from @MSU_Football
By Matt Sheehan
It's almost that time of year again, Spartan fans. Now that we are two weeks away from kickoff it is time to go through the schedule and breakdown the story line and chances of winning for each game the Spartans will play in 2012. In today's edition we will look at the first six games on the Spartans schedule to get the season's expectations put in place.
Aug 31 vs. Boise State- These two teams are in one identical situation: trying to replace the stars of last year’s offense. Boise State has lost record setting quarterback Kellen Moore and running back Doug Martin, just as the Spartans have lost Kirk Cousins, BJ Cunningham, and Keshawn Martin.
Both teams will be test driving their new offense, but the defense of Michigan State will stop the Broncos from going anywhere the whole night. Not only will the play on the field be well, but just think of the atmosphere that will be in Spartan Stadium; it’s a night game, with the brand new scoreboards, and it’s the very first game of the season. Sounds like a big bowl of mayhem for Boise State to be stepping into.
Michigan State’s chances of winning: 70%
Sep 9 vs. Central Michigan- The Chippewas of Central Michigan bring in the Spartans for a rare showdown in Mount Pleasant. The last two meetings have been split between the pair, with Michigan State winning 45-7 in a not-so-nail-biter in 2011.
The crowd will be top of the line for Central Michigan, but that won’t even help the Chippewas spotty offense get going against the Spartans tenacious D. Michigan State is seeing some of their best days in program history and Central Michigan is still trying to find their footing ever sense quarterback Dan LeFevour graduated.
Michigan State’s chances of winning: 90%
Sep 15 vs. Notre Dame- Notre Dame head coach, Brian Kelly, is 1-1 against Michigan State since joining the Irish, beating the Spartans last year 31-13. Last year’s drubbing all but erased the great memories (depending on who you root for) of “Little Giants” back in 2010. This game will settle the score and could very well put Brian Kelly and the Irish on the hot seat early on in 2012.
This matchup, like always, will have no clear-cut favorite to win. Both teams boast and incredible defense with offenses that look promising, but will still be in question. Star running back Le’Veon Bell will lead the ground attack for the Spartans and tight end Tyler Eifert will be the playmaker in the air for Notre Dame. Michigan State’s linebacker core and secondary will give the Irish a hard time airing out the ball, so expect a low scoring game from both ends of the ball. It will be another game under the nighttime skies of East Lansing, so prepare for another game with an intense atmosphere.
Michigan State’s chance of winning- 55%
Sep 22 vs. Eastern Michigan- A game should never be a walk in the park, but Michigan State could be enjoying a stroll on this Saturday afternoon. 2008 was the last time these two teams met, so the rosters will look very different for this game.
The Eagles are coming off of a 6-6 record, and two of those wins came against Division I-AA schools. Not to say they will be terrible this year, but Michigan State should have no problem running away with a convincing victory. The only blunder they can’t make, however, is overlooking the Eagles and taking them too lightly.
Michigan State’s chance of winning- 93%
Sep 29 vs. Ohio State- Big Ten play opens up with a big name team, and this year the showdown will be in East Lansing. The Spartans took advantage of the Ohio State’s odd season by winning 10-7 in Buckeye territory. Less than a year after quitting his head coaching job in Florida for medical reasons, Urban Meyer takes over the same position at Ohio State.
Ohio State has 18 returning starters on their roster, and Meyer also brings a top-notch recruiting class with him. Dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller will be one of the nation’s hardest players to contain, but saying the Spartans have stopped Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson three straight years they should have no problem with Miller. Ohio State’s defense will return stud defensive end John Simon and safety C.J. Barnett, so don’t look for the scoreboard to flash big numbers. Ohio State is a good team, but the Spartans have what it takes to prove they are better for a second straight meeting.
Michigan State’s chance of winning- 50%
Oct 6 vs. Indiana- Michigan State will head down to Hoosier Nation to follow up on last season’s 42-29 victory over Indiana. Indiana returns a Big-Ten high of 19 starters on both sides of the ball, but that is from a team that went 1-11 in 2011. Don’t give up on them, however, because they have the talent and new offensive coordinator, Seth Littrell, that could put Sparty on upset alert.
Junior running back Stephen Houston will lead the offense for the Hoosiers, and he will be receiving hand-offs from either dual-threat quarterback Tre Robertson or Cameron Coffman. Unfortunately for Indiana, the Spartans will have defensive ends William Gholston and Marcus Rush to help clog the run game. The fact that they face a linebacker core led by Max Bullough doesn’t help the Hoosiers either, and once again defense could be the reason the Spartans drive out of Indiana with a ‘W’.
Michigan State’s chance of winning- 80%
With six games in our preview knocked down, expect the Spartans to be 5-1 at this point of the season. A loss to either Notre Dame or Ohio State is possible, but to see the Spartans lose to both teams would be a shocker. Going undefeated through six games isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but they have a lot of talent to get through in order to achieve that record.
Come back soon to see part two of our preseason breakdown, and prepare yourself for another great season of Spartan football.