The Michigan State football team kicks off their 2012 season against the Boise State Broncos a week from today. With that being said, James Edwards and I will break out our crystal ball and predict the future for the Spartans.
Big Ten Record
Edwards: 6-2… There will be a few teams that will shock the Spartans this year. From Oct. 20 to Nov. 3, the Spartans have Michigan and Wisconsin away, followed by a home contest against Nebraska. The Spartans will get by Michigan once again, but will struggle at Wisconsin, and Nebraska will be the lone Big Ten team that will beat the Spartans at home.
Henk: 7-1… The Spartans will most likely be favored in their first three Big Ten match-ups against Ohio State, Indiana, and Iowa. I believe that the Spartans will win in Ann Arbor but will fall short at Wisconsin and then win the rest of their games.
Overall Regular Season Record
Edwards: 9-3… In a similar fashion to last season, the Spartans will fall short to the Fighting Irish, although not as bad as the 31-13 loss in South Bend a year ago.
Henk: 11-1… The Spartans will suffer their only regular season loss in Madison, Wis. on Oct. 27.
Bowl Game Prediction
Edwards: After winning the Big Ten title against the Wisconsin Badgers, the Spartans will get to the Rose Bowl and lose to USC.
Henk: The Spartans will beat the Badgers in the Big Ten Championship game but will lose to Oregon in Pasadena on Jan. 1.
Home Game of the Year
Edwards: Boise State… Friday night lights.. The ultimate cinderella, who could ask for anything better?
Henk: Ohio State… Andrew Maxwell will be put to the test in this game. The mystique surrounding Maxwell will be showcased and we will find out who he is. Boise State sure will be exciting, but back-to-back victories over the Buckeyes will show how much the Spartan football program has grown.
Away Game of the Year
Edwards: Michigan… After beating the Wolverines four times in a row, the “little brother” will hoist the Paul Bunyan Trophy for the fifth consecutive year.
Henk: Michigan… Enough said. Read here for the entire breakdown of the game that will take place in Ann Arbor on Oct. 20. Vote on the poll as well.
Edwards: At Minnesota Nov. 24… With the Gophers spread attack it may be possible that they are able to pick apart the Spartans’ supposedly stellar defense. Last year at Spartan Stadium, Michigan State won by a score of 31-24. It’s possible that Minnesota needs that home-feild advantage to get over that hump.
Henk: Northwestern Nov. 17 at Spartan Stadium… Read here about why Northwestern is such a scary team to play.
Offensive Player of the Year
Edwards: Le’Veon Bell… Don’t be surprised if he is a Heisman finalist at the end of the year with the inexperience at quarterback and receiver. Someone will have to carry the load.
Henk: Le’Veon Bell… With the experience on the offensive line, the Spartans will give the ball to Bell 20 to 30 times a game.
Defensive Player of the Year
Edwards: William Gholston… It’s time for the big fella to prove that he is not only one of the best defensive linemen in the Big Ten, but in the country as well.
Henk: Denicos Allen… He led the team with 11 sacks last season as an outside linebacker. His speed and quickness, combined with his hard-hitting ability will be even more present this year.
Breakout Player on Offense
Edwards: Dion Sims… He will be the most frequent target for newly starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell. With a combination of speed, size, and hands, he will give opposing defenses similar problems to what Kellen Davis did several years back.
Henk: Dion Sims… It’s time for the 6-foot-5, 285-pound tight-end to finally produce at Michigan State. Having battled injuries and going through legal issues the past three years, Sims is ready to let loose. He will be a beast this year.
Breakout Player on Defense
Edwards: Darqueze Dennard… When the season is all said and done, the junior will have been Michigan State’s most productive cornerback on the team.
Henk: Chris Norman… After starting 23 games at outside linebacker, including one as a true freshman, and battling injuries throughout his Spartan career, Norman makes a name for himself on defense. While Max Bullough led the team in tackles and Denicos Allen led the team in sacks, Norman went unnoticed most of last season. Norman, along with Bullough and Maxwell are the 2012 team captains.
Who or What Could be the Biggest Disappointment of the Season?
Edwards: Johnny Adams… With all the “hubla” surrounding Johnny Adams’ draft status in 2013, the weak tackling from the senior corner and sometimes lazy coverage will be exposed this season as he faces several spread attacks.
Henk: Off-the-field issues… Recently, Mark Dantonio has restored order within the Michigan State football program as far as off-the-field issues go. However, Michigan State is one mistake away from ruining what could be another memorable season.
Worst Case Scenario
Edwards: The Spartans finish the season 7-5 with losses to Wisconsin, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Michigan. While Edwards doesn’t believe they will lose to the Buckeyes and the Wolverines, he will not be shocked if the spread attacks of those teams expose the aggressive Spartan defense.
Henk: The Spartans finish 8-4 losing to Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Michigan. Those will be four tough, close games. Nevertheless, the Spartans will be bowling for the sixth straight season.
Edwards: Michigan State will have another hell-of-a-season and will finally get to a BCS Bowl. The offense will do just enough to get the Spartans there but the success of the season will rest on the shoulders of the defense. Mark Dantonio will win Big Ten Coach of the Year and Le’Veon Bell will lead the league in rushing yards and touchdowns.
Henk: Michigan State’s defense will be better than last season. Le’Veon Bell and the offensive line carry the load during the non-conference slate before Andrew Maxwell begins to gel with Bennie Fowler and Dion Sims.