Can the Michigan State Spartans repeat 2015’s success in 2016? It’s a question we won’t have to wait too much longer to learn the answer to.
SB Nation’s Bill Connelly has released his preseason Big Ten power rankings, and he sees MSU finishing second in the conference. That is, ahead of Ohio State but behind Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines.
However, Connelly places all three squads in what he calls "Tier 1," meaning any of the trio could easily win the conference:
Ranking teams in this order comes down to one thing: I think Ohio State's biggest question mark scares me the most.
I trust Michigan will be able to find a quarterback (that the Wolverines ranked in the top 10 in Passing S&P+ with Jake Rudock basically took that concern out of me), and I'm going to assume Michigan State is going to be able to absorb losses on defense without too much of a drop-off.
Ohio State's skill unit, however, worries me. There's obviously potential, and I assume any issues will be rectified by 2017, but last year Ohio State didn't get many big plays and was reliant on extreme efficiency. They were efficient when they had Zeke Elliott, Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, and Braxton Miller. They're gone, and a lot of the potential replacements are extremely young. That should make Ohio State's offense really inconsistent.
(By the way, these rankings are not based on conference schedules. But if Michigan State really is the No. 2, the Spartans should maybe be considered the Big Ten favorite, since they get both UM and OSU at home.)
If Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State really are that close, it could come down to home field advantage to decide who wins.
MSU fans might be disappointed they didn’t get the preseason top spot, but they’re used to that by now.