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Vincent Rizzo Sports COLLEGE FOOTBALL TOP 50 COUNTDOWN,  TODAY NO.50  MICHIGAN STATE Vincent Rizzo Sports COLLEGE FOOTBALL TOP 50 COUNTDOWN,  TODAY NO.50  MICHIGAN STATE
7.6.2017 Thursday   Today at No. 50: MICHIGAN STATE  Coach: Mark Dantonio (90-42, entering 11th season; 108-59 overall) 2016 record: 3-9, 1-8 in the Big Ten Conference,... Vincent Rizzo Sports COLLEGE FOOTBALL TOP 50 COUNTDOWN,  TODAY NO.50  MICHIGAN STATE

7.6.2017

Thursday

 

Today at No. 50: MICHIGAN STATE 

Coach: Mark Dantonio (90-42, entering 11th season; 108-59 overall)

2016 record: 3-9, 1-8 in the Big Ten Conference, sixth in the East Division

Look back: After opening with victories over Furman and Notre Dame, Michigan State’s season took a disastrous turn as the Spartans went on to lose nine of their last 10 games. The three wins were the lowest victory total in a season since 1991 and just the second losing season in the Mark Dantonio era. Injuries forced Michigan State to use 20 first-time starters as well as three starters with just one career start heading into the 2016 season.

Offensive starters returning: 4

Offensive starters lost: 7

Defensive starters returning: 4

Defensive starters lost: 7

Key losses: QB Tyler O’Connor, WR Monty Madaris, WR R.J. Shelton, TE Josiah Price, TE Jamal Lyles, OL Miguel Machado, DL Brandon Clemons, DT Kevin Williams, LB Riley Bullough, DB Demetrious Cox

Top returnees: RB LJ Scott, OL Brian Allen, DE Demetrius Cooper, LB Chris Frey, LB Andrew Dowell

Strengths: Michigan State took a major step backward on defense, with the Spartans allowing nearly a touchdown more per game in 2016 than 2015. The unit finished last in the Big Ten in sacks (11) and next-to-last in turnovers gained (13). However, the defense gained experience the hard way last season and returns a core of young and talented players led by LB Chris Frey, who led the team in tackles (96) and LB Andrew Dowell (67 tackles). The front line contains a pair of sophomores in Raequan Williams and Mike Panasiuk, who earned their first career starts late in the season.

RB LJ Scott put together a career-best season despite the team’s offensive struggles. He rushed for 994 yards, much of which came in the final two months of the season. He crossed the 100-yard level in four games. Scott will share the rushing duties with senior Gerald Holmes, who rushed for 431 yards on 91 attempts.

Weaknesses: The quarterback group faced adversity in 2016. Tyler O’Connor’s struggles, coupled with injuries to Brian Lewerke and Damion Terry, limited what the team could do offensively. Despite suffering a broken leg that forced him to miss much of the second half of the season, Lewerke appears to be the clear choice to lead offense during the 2017 season.

The Spartans will rely on a young offensive line, with senior Brian Allen and junior David Beedle the only upperclassmen back as starters. Three of the spots, including Beedle’s, feature players who have combined for about a dozen career starts. The unit allowed 27 sacks, the most in more than a decade.

Outlook: Michigan State spent much of the offseason dealing with an ongoing sexual assault investigation that led to three players being charged and dismissed from the team. The Spartans head into preseason camp with more questions than answers. A bowl bid is possible, but a return to competitiveness in the Big Ten East Division seems out of reach.

Today at No. 50: Michigan State Coach: Mark Dantonio (90-42, entering 11th season; 108-59 overall) 2016 record: 3-9, 1-8 in the Big Ten Conference, sixth in the East Division Look back: After opening with victories over Furman and Notre Dame, Michigan State’s season took a disastrous turn as the Spartans went on to lose nine of their last 10 games. The three wins were the lowest victory total in a season since 1991 and just the second losing season in the Mark Dantonio era. Injuries forced Michigan State to use 20 first-time starters as well as three starters with just one career start heading into the 2016 season. Offensive starters returning: 4 Offensive starters lost: 7 Defensive starters returning: 4 Defensive starters lost: 7 Key losses: QB Tyler O’Connor, WR Monty Madaris, WR R.J. Shelton, TE Josiah Price, TE Jamal Lyles, OL Miguel Machado, DL Brandon Clemons, DT Kevin Williams, LB Riley Bullough, DB Demetrious Cox Top returnees: RB LJ Scott, OL Brian Allen, DE Demetrius Cooper, LB Chris Frey, LB Andrew Dowell Strengths: Michigan State took a major step backward on defense, with the Spartans allowing nearly a touchdown more per game in 2016 than 2015. The unit finished last in the Big Ten in sacks (11) and next-to-last in turnovers gained (13). However, the defense gained experience the hard way last season and returns a core of young and talented players led by LB Chris Frey, who led the team in tackles (96) and LB Andrew Dowell (67 tackles). The front line contains a pair of sophomores in Raequan Williams and Mike Panasiuk, who earned their first career starts late in the season. RB LJ Scott put together a career-best season despite the team’s offensive struggles. He rushed for 994 yards, much of which came in the final two months of the season. He crossed the 100-yard level in four games. Scott will share the rushing duties with senior Gerald Holmes, who rushed for 431 yards on 91 attempts. Weaknesses: The quarterback group faced adversity in 2016. Tyler O’Connor’s struggles, coupled with injuries to Brian Lewerke and Damion Terry, limited what the team could do offensively. Despite suffering a broken leg that forced him to miss much of the second half of the season, Lewerke appears to be the clear choice to lead offense during the 2017 season. The Spartans will rely on a young offensive line, with senior Brian Allen and junior David Beedle the only upperclassmen back as starters. Three of the spots, including Beedle’s, feature players who have combined for about a dozen career starts. The unit allowed 27 sacks, the most in more than a decade. Outlook: Michigan State spent much of the offseason dealing with an ongoing sexual assault investigation that led to three players being charged and dismissed from the team. The Spartans head into preseason camp with more questions than answers. A bowl bid is possible, but a return to competitiveness in the Big Ten East Division seems out of reach.

Vincent Rizzo

College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com

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