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The Only Colors Roundtable: Michigan State Predictions

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Forget the noise, we know what is coming for MSU in 2016

We have seen plenty of “Way-Too-Early” polls from the likes of Marky Mark Schlabach and others from that place in Bristol. Well instead of talking about that or sharing even more #Disrespekt we decided to poll some of the staff here and see what we thought the actual record was going to be for your Spartans this year. Feel free to tell us how wrong we are in the comments.

Joe Tuohey

2016 Record: 9-3

Why: There's two ways to look at the schedule. On one hand, there's just one tough away game, at Notre Dame. On the other, there are probably only 6 or 7 games that would be shocking losses given the offensive upheaval that has to come this year. To me that adds up to 8-4/9-3. Which is totally respectable, though probably a bit disappointing. I say 9-3 to give Dantonio the benefit of the doubt.

2016 season highlight will be: Making it 8 of 9 against Regular Michigan.

Austin Smith

2016 record: 10-2 (losses @ND and Ohio State)

Why: MSU is officially at the Big Boy Table but 2016 will be a true test of the foundation Mark Dantonio has been laying. There will be a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball and with a trip to Notre Dame looming in the third week of the season guys like Raequan Williams, Donnie Corley, Andrew Dowell and many others I'm not thinking of right now, will need to get up to speed quickly.

Offensively, national pundits will surely concentrate on Tyler O'Connor replacing Connor Cook under center, but Spartan faithful shouldn't fret. It's a tough job replacing the best QB in school history but a 5th year senior who has already won in the Horseshoe is about the safest bet you can make. The last time MSU underwent such a huge offensive talent revamp was 2013 when Connor Cook, Jeremy Langford and Tony Lippett got their opportunities. This Spartan roster is a lot more talented top to bottom than that one thanks to some phenomenal recruiting classes, so it's fair to expect a few stars to emerge offensively alongside veterans like Josiah Price, RJ Shelton and LJ Scott.

The defense should be ready to get back to elite levels. The defensive line is anchored by a potential top-10 pick in Malik McDowell who will command constant double teams and the quality linebackers are almost too many to name. The biggest difference should come in the secondary which was, um, not great a season ago. Safeties Montae Nicholson and Demetrious Cox are both extremely talented and made some noticeable strides when they played together consistently down the stretch and behind them, Grayson Miller and Khari Willis have experience. At corner, the return of Vayante Copeland, who looked like hands down the best Spartan corner before getting injured last season, is enormous. Pair him with Darian Hicks and a host of young corners chomping at the bit to get on the field, and you have a recipe for success. Oh, and Ed Davis is back to reek havoc off the edge. MSU will be underrated (what else is new) but I think this is a 10 win team.

2016 season highlight will be: Beating an undefeated Michigan. Again. That will be awesome.

Jameson Draper

2016 record: 10-2

Why: There are a ton of question marks for this team coming into the 2016 season. The defense has a lot of returning starters from last season, but there was enough criticism of the team's defense last year that people seem to be worried about them once again this year. In addition, no one knows how the offense will perform; Connor Cook and pretty much the entire group of starting wideouts are gone. Last time MSU had to find a replacement for a legendary quarterback, they ended up with Andrew Maxwell. So I understand why people are nervous about this season, here's why Spartans will be OK:

Mark Dantonio has built an elite program in East Lansing.

People like to throw the word "elite" around, but in this case, it's warranted. MSU has been the most dominant team in the Big Ten since 2010, despite an Ohio State National Championship thrown in the mix. They have proved time and time again that even with massive roster turnover, they're able to perform. Remember how worried we were when Kirk Cousins & Co. left East Lansing? Look how that turned out. An elite program doesn't have bad seasons. Dantonio and Mark Hollis have built an s̶y̶s̶t̶e̶m̶ empire that is built to churn out new polished talent each year. Down years aren't accepted for the frontrunners of college football, and Coach D seems to have figured out the formula to assure that doesn't happen.

The team will drop 2 games -- Notre Dame and Wisconsin, perhaps (and maybe Ohio State) -- because I think it will take a short period of time for them to gel. Remember, this core has never played a game together. But the worries of Spartan Nation are greatly exaggerated. Everything we've seen from Tyler O'Connor (the most likely starting QB) has been acceptable at worst. The wide receiving corps are allegedly the most talented group of the Dantonio era. The defense, whose main weakness was the pass game last year, is returning two cornerbacks that started 13 or more games. The Spartans will be just fine.

2016 season highlight will be: Coming back to East Lansing at 5-2 to play Michigan -- who will inevitably be heavy favorites -- and beating them by at least two safeties.

Jason Marcum

2016 record: 10-2 (11-2 after the bowl)

Why: This is a really hard projection to make with so much uncertainty around several key areas for MSU, and that's also the case with many teams on their schedule. Teams like Ohio State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame lost a ton from last year, but still have plenty of talent to go around and win 10+ games.

Still, I go with MSU's stability and consistency under Dantonio in picking them to win 11 games, something they've done in all but one year since 2010. Looking at their schedule, I'm penciling in wins over Northwestern, Penn State, BYU, Furman, Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers and Indiana.

The swing games will be Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. I feel good about MSU getting two wins from that. group, but aren't able to overcome both Michigan and Ohio State to win East Division. The Spartans miss out on the Big Ten Championship, but do win their bowl game to get to 11 wins.

2016 season highlight will be: Beating Ohio State on Senior Day. The Buckeyes have lost a ton of talent and should be in for 2-3 losses this season, one of which coming at the hands of a Spartans team and their seniors looking to go out on a high note.

Chris Vannini

2016 record: 10-2

Why: Defense should carry the team this time around (if Ed Davis gets cleared for his sixth year) and the running game should help the QB's figure themselves out in a run-based offense. Playing 11 straight games after the Furman opener will be difficult, and Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State may all be top-10 teams, while BYU and Wisconsin will be tough.

2016 highlight will be: MSU's fourth straight win over Michigan and eighth in nine years.

Dom Garrett

2016 record: 12-0

Why: Alright, alright. I know I look like the homer in on this roundtable right now but I am really thinking we have a chance to go undefeated this year. I am looking at the competition that we had last year and I know we have a tougher earlier test with traveling to ND, but I look at the last time we played them in 2013.

As a matter of fact, lets look at the 2013 Spartans:

  • QB who knows the system(Cook in 2013/Terry or O’Connor in 2016), won a big game the year before (Cook in the Buffalo Wings Bowl/ O’Connor or Terry in the OSU win) and is now the starter after a QB battle in the off season (Cook vs Maxwell in 2013/ O’Connor vs Terry 2016)
  • Junior Running back who is set to have a breakout year. (Langford in 2013/Holmes or Williams in 2016)
  • A defense that is most most likely going to be led by a tough and highly scouted, potential first round sophomore defensive lineman (Calhoun in 2013/McDowell in 2016)
  • A team that is not expected to make waves in the conference and expected to be second or third in the division behind a “powerhouse coach” from a different school in the division. (Ohio State in 2013/Michigan in 2016)
  • A team that is largely forgotten in the division while national news covers a different team’s coach and his every move. (Meyer in 2013/Harbaugh in 2016)

The the only difference is that the 2013 campaign came on the heels of a disappointing 7-6 season and this year is following a 12-2 season with a conference title and a College Football Playoff birth. We have been here before, we are better suited now then we were then.

2016 highlight will be: As much as I want to say “beating Michigan...again” it will be old news and 8 out of 9 years is not a highlight, it is old hat. The highlight will be winning the first round of the college football playoffs against Clemson and the re-match against Alabama in the National Title game.