Finally. College Football starts this weekend. Here are a few points, players, important games to make this a memorable, perhaps historic season for Michigan State.
Andrew Maxwell: If the Spartans want to win the Legends Division again and book a trip to Pasadena, the big-armed junior has to get the passing game on track before the Big Ten season starts. Maxwell is taking over for Kirk Cousins, who some would argue is the best quarterback in MSU history. A lot of people say that Maxwell has more raw talent than Cousins. He has had plenty of time to watch and learn from Cousins, now he has to take it on to the field, be mentally tough and be a leader to the young receiving corp.
Le’veon Bell: With Edwin Baker gone to the NFL this is going to be a special year for Bell. I’m talking Heisman conversation at the end of the year. First-Team All-Big Ten? Yup. The offensive line is solid and Bell will be dedicated, knowing the team will be dependent on the running game.
The Defense: Returning nine starters, this unit absolutely can and they have to consistently destroy teams. I’ll just throw out some names…Johnny Adams (probably the best cornerback in the country), Max Bullough (best linebacker in the Big Ten), Isaiah Lewis (best safety in the Big Ten), and the Manimal, William Gholston (6-7, 275, one of the most physically talented and dominating players in the nation). And don’t forget about linebackers Chris Norman and Denicos Allen (Honorable Mention and Second-Team All Big Ten), and corner Darqueze Dennard. It’s tough to argue that Michigan State’s Defense isn’t one of the top 3 defenses in the nation. They might be forced to win a couple of games by themselves, and they can.
The Receiving Corp: B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, and Keith Nichol are gone. Who is going to step up and be the go-to-guy for Maxwell? The guys with the most experience are junior Bennie Fowler and sophomore Tony Lippett. Fowler has been plagued by foot injuries and Lippett started five games at cornerback last year. Transfer DeAnthony Arnett (5-11, 170) will be expected to contribute immediately. He had a great freshman year at Tennessee before deciding to transfer to MSU to be close to his father in Saginaw. Other guys that could do big things are sophomore Keith Mumphrey (6-0, 208) and red-shirt freshman Andre Sims Jr. (5-9, 182). I think tight end junior Dion Sims (6-5, 285) will be the biggest help to Maxwell early in the season. He is on the preseason watch list for the Mackey Award.
Boise State Game: It will be a fun time in East Lansing (especially at Spartan Stadium or the Riv) when the Spartans open up against the Broncos on a Friday night nationally televised game. The Broncos are replacing more starters (including quarterback Kellen Moore) than the Spartans, but never count out a team coached by Chris Petersen. It will be interesting to see how Maxwell and the receivers play against an experienced secondary. The Spartans defense and running game will be too good to let an upset occur.
Notre Dame and Nebraska: MSU looked like crap in their losses at Notre Dame and Nebraska last year, losing by combined score of 55-16. It’s time for some revenge at Spartan Stadium on September 15th (ND) and November 3rd (NE).
October: In back to back weeks at the end of October, the Spartans play road games at Michigan and Wisconsin. Both of these teams are contenders for the Big Ten title and BCS births. It will be a tough stretch that will ultimately determine the Spartan’s season.
The Spartans have one of the toughest schedules in the nation this year, but they have talent and ability to go back to the Big Ten Championship game and win it. I’m not going to make any predictions, I’m just going to sit back and watch. But it could be a really special season for MSU football. Go Green!