Week 1: Michigan St. (0-0, 0-0 Big 10) vs. Youngstown St. (0-0 FBS)
Yesterday evening was the opening night of the 2011 Division…FBS…BCS ATQ…college football season. Wisconsin QB transfer Russell Wilson and his teammates dog walked UNLV at Camp Randall, 164-10, and alleged SEC dark horse Mississippi St dispatched of Memphis by outscoring them by the end of regulation. Enough of that jazz.
At 6:30 PM CT, the Michigan State Spartans will begin their 2011 season and defense of a share of the 2010 Big 10 title against the Youngstown State Penguins in East Lansing, MI. I’m not familiar with being a student-fan of even a quasi-powerhouse Sparty football team, but I’m sure the kids will do what they can to have Spartan Stadium rocking.
For those who just like to see the utmost basic numbers:
Total Offense: 388.5 ypg
Total Defense: 353.8 ypg
Points Scored: 29.5 ppg
Points Allowed: 22.3 ppg
As much as I love Sparty, they were a mediocre team that just seemed to find a way to win close games last year. Despite a good passing game headed by (now) junior quarterback Kirk Cousins, departed WR Mark Dell and senior WR B.J. Cunningham and a very good running game featuring junior running backs Edwin Baker and Larry Capers, the team still only finished 53rd nationally in total offense. Their Capital One Bowl performance against a “down” Alabama team on both sides of the ball was appalling, for lack of a better word. 49-7 did that ass-whooping ‘Bama gave Sparty NO JUSTICE. However, this team must continue to get game-changing plays from the defense. Somehow, without All-Everything LB Greg Jones and invaluable CB Chris L. Rucker. The pass defense improved…somewhat. A unit that gave up 32 touchdown passes in 2009 gave up only 18 in 2010 to go along with 17 interceptions, a drastic improvement from only 6 picks in ’09. An extremely talented front four anchored by preseason All-American junior defensive tackle Jerel Worthy backed up by a secondary with All-Conference cornerbacks Johnny Adams and Trenton Robinson must lead the defense into the top-25 statistically, and not somewhere in the 40’s against mostly average offensive teams. I’m one person who believes that if the Spartans had not suffered a complete meltdown last season and beaten Iowa (on the road…YIKES), they would’ve played Auburn in the national title game. They also would’ve gotten obliterated on national TV, causing anyone ever affiliated with the school to forever go into hiding. Yes, that includes Magic Johnson.
I don’t believe this team, with 13 returning starters (7 offense, 6 defense) will win 11 games again mainly because of the departures of Jones, Dell and Rucker. Sparty stole more than a few games last year, most notably the home whopper against Notre Lame. Chances are they won’t be as lucky this season, although in the Big 10, nothing is ever a sure thing. 9 wins in 2011 seems reasonable for a somewhat young, talented team and would be a reason for celebration in East Lansing, I would like to think. As long as 2 of them come against Ohio St and Michigan, 9 wins would be effing great.
Oh, and about Sparty vs. Pens…