Fall means Football. That’s what the “State News” was displaying on it’s frontpage this Monday. And let me tell you what: it’s true! The waiting? Over (well, almost). The Media Day? Done. So: It’s football season, guys!
And when the Spartans enter Spartan Stadium to face Youngstown State (on September 2nd), they will be ranked #17 in the “USA Today Coaches Poll”.
But where do they really belong? Is one poll enough? Porbably not. So I decided to keep track of some of the preseason rankings/predictions during the offseason.
The result is what I call: The Ultimnate Sparan Ranking.
And here are the ingrediance.
“Despite winning a piece of the Big Ten Championship, the Spartans didn’t get to play in a BCS bowl game. That could change this season. QB Kirk Cousins returns to lead the offense with RB Edwin Baker in the backfield. LB Eric Gordon is a huge loss on the defensive front.”
“Michigan State may be as good, or possibly better, than a year ago, but will have trouble approaching last year’s shiny 11–2 record. Ohio State and Nebraska are now on the schedule, and both games are on the road. The Spartans must also travel to Notre Dame and Iowa. Michigan State may not have an equal in the Big Ten at the offensive skill positions. Coaches expect the offensive line to get squared away by September, but it won’t be an area of strength. How well that unit comes along will determine whether Michigan State can make another run at double-digit wins.”
“Michigan State was playing as well as anyone in the Big Ten until it was blasted by Alabama 49-7 in the Capital One Bowl. The Spartans still can’t be overlooked in the Big Ten race, though, with quarterback Kirk Cousins and running backs Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell returning. Offensive line coach Dan Roushar was promoted to replace offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, who was named head coach at Miami (Ohio). MSU will have to replace star linebackers Eric Gordon and Greg Jones, a two-time All-American. Incoming freshmen Lawrence Thomas and Darien Harris might get an early look at linebacker. The Spartans face a very difficult four-game stretch in October: at Ohio State, home against Michigan and Wisconsin, and at Nebraska.”
But still: When ESPN’s Matt Millen gives his top five potential surprise contenders for the National Title: The Spartans are one of them.
“What to watch for on offense: Shuffling on the offensive line. The front five wasn’t exactly special last season, and it didn’t do enough on a consistent basis to blast anyone off the ball, but to get back to a Big Ten title level the right combination has to be found right away and the results have to be better. The guard situation is solid with Joel Foreman, when healthy, and Chris McDonald good ones to work around, but the tackle situation is more than just a question mark and the center job has to be settled. When you’re counting on defensive linemen to step in and produce on the offensive front, there’s a problem.
What to watch for on defense: How fast can the linebackers make up for the losses of Greg Jones and Eric Gordon? Oddly enough, the team came through with its big year even though Jones didn’t blow up like he did earlier in his career. Even so, he was the team’s leading tackler and a peerless leader for a good front seven. The Spartans have good athletes and lots of options at linebacker, and the stats will come just by the nature of the positions, but it’s asking a lot to replace two all-stars and get the same results.”
Bleacher Report Analyst Ryan Faller says: “The Spartans suffered an embarrassing end to an otherwise dream season, but brighter days may lie ahead. Michigan State’s two defensive anchors, linebacker Greg Jones and corner Chris L. Rucker, both depart, but the losses on that side of the ball are minimal. Offensively, Kirk Cousins and Edwin Baker form one of the more solid backfields in the Big Ten. It’s possible the Spartans could be more talented in 2011, but the schedule isn’t as forgiving as it was this season with road games at Notre Dame, Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa.”
“A great 2010 season ended with a thud for the Spartans, who capped their Big Ten championship season with a ridiculously embarrassing 49-7 loss to Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. Coach Mark Dantonio has done a wondrous job of bringing discipline and consistency to historically undisciplined and inconsistent program, but 2011 represents a huge challenge: Can he get this team to believe that they are good enough to win back-to-back Big Ten titles? It’s not really about the talent in East Lansing. It’s about the attitude.”
So: If you add all these picks and divide that number through the amount of rankings/polls, you get (round about) #19. Good? Better? Season will tell. But thats what the first annual Ultimate Spartan Ranking says.
You want to add some more rankings: please comment.