The college football offseason is in the dead of summer.
You know what that means?
OVER/UNDER SEASON, BABY.
Sports books have dropped their win totals for college football teams and our Spartans sit at 7.5 wins for the season.
So, the question is easy — does MSU win more than 7.5 games, or less? Let’s take a quick look at the case for each.
THE CASE FOR OVER 7.5
It’s obvious – MSU returns a bulk of what was arguably the best defense in the nation last season. Joe Bachie is back. Kenny Willekes is back. The Panasiuk brothers are back. Raequan Williams is back. Josiah Scott? Oh yeah, he’s back too.
What’s also back is an offense that almost – quite literally – can’t possibly be any worse than last season. We don’t need to go into every stat to remind us how tough it was for the offense to do anything of substance – we already know.
The defense should be good enough once again to keep us in every game on the schedule. Last season if the offense held up their end of the bargain and just played average, it would have been a 10-win season.
Could the defense replicate their dominance again this season? Honestly…probably. And can the offense just be somewhat good this season? Honestly…alright, I have no idea. But I do know that Brian Lewerke is healthy and *knocks on every piece of wood available* the offense won’t see horrible injury luck on the scale they did last season.
The non-conference schedule is very friendly. Indiana, Illinois and Maryland all come to East Lansing as winnable games. Rutgers is still in the Big Ten East, somehow. MSU usually pulls a rabbit out of its hat and wins a huge game or two, which could be against former Big Ten Championship Game attendees
Michigan, Penn State and OSU. And, most importantly, MSU killer Clayton Thorson is no longer at Northwestern.
Incredible defense coming back? Healthy Brian Lewerke and Co.? An offense that almost cannot get any worse? A favorable home slate? Hey, at least 8 wins seems within reach.
THE CASE AGAINST OVER 7.5 WINS
Alright, so yes, the great defense of last year is returning most of its players. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but two things.
1) It will be a very tall task to ask for the defense to replicate their numbers from last season. 17.2 points per game, 77.9 rushing yards per game and 303.2 total yards per game is a hell of a bench mark to achieve. And with an offense that struggled as much as it did last year, you needed those numbers to stay competitive. Hell, those numbers didn’t even win you games at some times.
2) Most players are returning – not all. And two of those holes are Justin Layne, who was arguably the best cornerback in the Big Ten. Not an easy guy to replace by any means. Losing Andrew Dowell is a loss too (however the depth behind him looks more promising than replacing Layne).
And let’s talk about that offense…listen, we know Dantonio shuffled the deck chairs on the Titanic and switched everyone’s coaching position on that side of the ball. There’s no saying whether Brad Salem’s new offense will work or if it is even that new. Let’s just say it’s great and looks functional – what does Brian Lewerke’s psyche look like?
Look, it was almost as if the coaching staff went out of their way to handle Lewerke’s injury as poorly as possible last season. Playing him while hurt. Saying he’s healthy even though something is clearly wrong with him, so now fans just think he flat-out sucks instead of having a bum shoulder. Rushing him back too early, for whatever reason, only to see him continue to struggle. You could see it in the RedBox Bowl – he was a headcase.
If Lewerke can get his confidence back, it would be extraordinary. However, I don’t know how easy that is. The coaching staff did a number to him last season.
Another strike against the offense is losing their best player in Felton Davis. The receiving corps is still strong with Cody White, Darrell Stewart and Jalen Nailor (when healthy), but Davis was a completely different beast out there.
And when you have a running game that leaves a lot to be desired, you need playmakers like Felton who could just take over games. I’m not sure MSU has one of those game-dominators on the team this year.
Oh…and we’re traveling to Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin. Fun.
Place your bets on MSU’s win total
This poll is closed
Over 7.5 wins
Under 7.5 wins