Will MSU make CFB's final four?
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) – After a highly successful 2013 season, will the Michigan State Spartans crack the four-team playoff field in college football this year?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Spartans have 3/1 odds to make the four-team playoff format in college football this year and 1/5 odds to miss the postseason altogether. They’re also a 25/1 long shot to win the 2014-15 College Football FBS Championship, although their odds are comparable to LSU (18/1), Baylor (28/1) and USC (28/1). The Florida State Seminoles remain the favorites to repeat as title winners at 11/2 odds.
The Spartans return nine starters on offense including quarterback Connor Cook and receivers Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery. But while 2013 All-Conference center Jack Allen and offensive tackle Jack Conklin return, three of the five positions along the offensive line will have new faces. Thankfully for MSU, tight end Josiah Price returns, as does tailback Jeremy Langford, who is one of the stars of the entire unit.
Where the Spartans took the biggest hit this offseason was on defense, which is where they ranked fourth in the nation a year ago including third in both passing yards allowed and scoring. Gone is cornerback Darqueze Dennard and safety Isaiah Lewis, replaced by sophomore Darian Hicks and junior RJ Williamson, respectively. Safety Kurtis Drummond, corner Trae Waynes and linebacker Taiwan Jones return, but the front four will have two new faces and the linebacker corps will have two as well.
Michigan State is going to compete again for a Big Ten title but whether or not the Spartans can overtake Ohio State with a rebuilt offensive line is the question. The skill position players are a strength offensively but it all starts in the trenches and if the O-line can’t develop some cohesion throughout the season then Sparty could fall short in the end. It’ll also be interesting to see if the secondary is as good without Dennard locking down one side of the field in coverage.