2009 Total Offense Rank (yards per game): 38
2009 Total Defense Rank (yards per game): 73

The Michigan State Spartans had a rough 2009 season, finishing with a disappointing six wins. Head coach Mark Dantonio, known as a defensive guru, led a lackluster defense that couldn’t get the job done. The Spartans do have some talent coming back, but it will be an uphill battle in a tough Big Ten conference.

Michigan State’s defense ranked 112th in the country against the pass last year. The team forced only 14 turnovers (6 interceptions), and allowed a whopping 42 passing touchdowns. The one bright spot is linebacker Greg Jones, a potential defensive player of the year for the upcoming season. In 2009, he had 154 tackles (14 fMichigan State Spartans College Football Cheerleaderor loss) and nine sacks. He is a game changing player that opposing offenses have to account for on every play.

The Spartans offense played relatively well last season, scoring almost 30 points per game. In his first year as a starter, quarterback Kirk Cousins was productive throwing for 2,680 yards and 19 touchdowns. His second season should be even better considering many of his top receivers return. Junior B.J. Cunningham had 641 yards receiving and Keshawn Martin averaged almost 23 yards per catch. The loss of top receiver Blair White will hurt, but the receiving corps should prove serviceable.

The running game, on the other hand, needs serious improvement. Coach Dantonio has not named a starter for this season, but it looks like last year’s leading rusher Larry Caper will get the nod. Caper had only 503 yards rushing with a 3.9 yards per carry average. For the Spartans offense to have a chance, they have to improve their running game.

Outside of Greg Jones, this team does not have a lot of star power. In a tough conference, the Spartans will be lucky to break even this year. Coach Dantonio has a lot of work to do and the Spartans will likely be an average team once again in 2010.

Michigan State’s odds to win the Big Ten: +1200

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