Michigan State Spartans Odds to win the Big Ten with Expert Betting Predictions
As a Michigan fan, I obviously don't love Michigan State. I like to hate them. Lately, though, I feel myself pitying them more, and it's tough to hate someone you pity. I'll find a way, but it won't be easy. Last year they started the season ranked, climbed as high as eighth, and wound up 3-9. It really takes something for any major conference team to go 3-9, never mind one that goes into the season seen as a viable contender.
Needless to say, if anything could have gone wrong it did. And the sad reality (more for them than for me) is that no one expects them to be any good at all this time around, and those people are almost certain to be right. Things could get ugly in East Lansing. Couldn't happen to nicer folks.
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2016 in a Nutshell
Things started out just fine. They beat Furman, which of course proved nothing. Then they beat Notre Dame - another team that started out ranked and spent the season exploring just how low they could go. In a blink, though, they went from 2-0 to 2-7. They got smoked at home by Wisconsin. They lost in overtime to Indiana. They got beat at home by BYU and Northwestern. They lost at Maryland then dropped one at home to their in-state rival who they have had their way with recently. And they even managed to lose at Illinois, which isn't easy to do. They temporarily eased the pain by crushing Rutgers 49-0 - because Rutgers really is that bad. Then they came shockingly close to rocking the world, losing to Ohio State by a single point. That was all they had to give, though, because they capped the season by lying down and failing to fight at Penn State.
The squad was no better than decent defensively and just plain lousy offensively. As a result, they beat an irrelevant team, a struggling one, a terrible one, and did nothing else. Rough year.
Key Additions and Departures
The Spartans are facing another QB change as Tyler O'Connor is gone after just one year at the helm. He won't be missed too much. He was either very good or really awful - there was no middle ground. Brian Lewerke is likely to replace O'Connor, but it's a position of decent depth, so they won't be forced to stick with him if it doesn't go well. Lewerke played a bit last year but didn't show a whole lot to be thrilled about. Whoever is tossing the passes doesn't lose too much this year. Receiver R.J. Shelton is the biggest loss along with a tight end. They have five guys with starting experience on the line, but though they return the most experienced starter the next four most experienced guys are gone. The line, then, is a bit of a question. Add it all up, and we should see an offense that isn't too far off of what we saw last year. We shouldn't see much improvement, though, and that is going to be a problem.
A big part of the issues last year was the defensive line. They lost six important players, and then their star, Malik McDowell, was injured and missed time. It got ugly. And that is going to be a concern again this year. McDowell is gone, second-best option Demetrius Cooper is working to get back on track after off-field issues and his availability is still in question, and they lost four other significant contributors. After two straight years of big losses, the team is inevitably going to struggle up front. There is some talent, but especially at end it's going to be a rough road. And the secondary is going to be ugly, too, with four guys gone and one in question from a unit that wasn't very good last year. This is, in every way, a rebuilding year for the defense, and it's not going to go well. It would be quite a shock if last year's bad defense wasn't worse this year.
Michigan State Spartans Schedule Analysis
Things could start out okay again, with Bowling Green and Western Michigan at home to start the season. Both games are very winnable, but if they lost one it will really be a sign of how troubled the season could be. They have two more home games, but they are much tougher. First comes Notre Dame, who should be better than last year. Then Iowa, which is a team that has plenty of questions to answer of their own. Next they go to Michigan, which will go badly, and to Minnesota, which isn't as scary. Hosting Indiana is a tossup, then going to Northwestern is tough. Penn State and Ohio State back-to-back are going to go badly, but then Maryland and Rutgers are more manageable.
This is, all in all, a fairly soft schedule. They aren't as good as last year, but they could have a better record. Don't be fooled, though - this team will be lousy.
2017-18 Michigan State Spartans Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline has the Spartans at +10000 to win the national title. That's a huge price but not nearly high enough to make it even remotely attractive. At +3300 they are ninth in the Big Ten futures, miles behind favored Ohio State at -115. Again, no value there. They are the fourth choice to win the Big Ten East at +2500 but so far behind the top three that you can't even pretend that they are viable contenders.
Not surprisingly, they were not a great team to bet on last year. They were just 4-8 ATS, though they turned things around slightly, going 3-2 ATS in the final five. By that point the public had written them off, so expectations were easier to exceed. They were only slightly better on totals, going "over" just five times despite incompetence on defense.
2017-18 Michigan State Spartans Predictions and College Football Picks
Needless to say, I am not a fan of this team right now. Lousy team in line for a lousy season. They could win four or five games, and even have an outside shot at bowl eligibility, but it will mean nothing. This is a lost year, and hopefully just one that they can use to rebuild and become more relevant next year.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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