Michigan State Win Total Prediction
The 2018 football season was a winning one for Michigan State, but still fell far below expectations. Are the Spartans due to bounce back in 2019?
Mark Dantonio steps into his 13th season as head coach of the Spartans. Last year, MSU went 7-6 overall and 5-4 in the Big Ten. It was Dantonio’s third 7-win season with MSU in his career, but he has led the Spartans to better records in seven other seasons. According to oddsmakers, the Spartans come into this season with an over/under of 7.5 wins. The over is listed with -105 odds, while the under is set at -115.
The MSU offense was brutal in 2018 and hard to watch. They averaged just 18.7 points and 342.1 yards per game. Their usually strong rushing attack was held to 124.8 yards per game, which was near the bottom of the country. In the offseason, Mark Dantonio made a lot of shakeups in the coaching staff, including at play-caller. Eight starters return on offense, including four on the offensive line. Also back is quarterback Brian Lewerke and leading rusher Connor Heyward. Heyward had just 520 yards and five touchdowns on the ground while Lewerke threw for 1,868 yards and eight touchdowns with 10 interceptions. Leading receiver Cody White is also back after missing a chunk of the season to injury in 2018. He had 36 receptions for 491 yards.
Michigan State has always been solid on defense, and that wasn’t an issue last year. However, the passing defense struggled a bit, allowing 225.2 yards per game. That’s a lot considering the entire defense gave up just 17.2 points and 303.2 yards per game. The Spartans did have the top run defense and that could be the case again this year as they return six of their front seven starters. Joe Bachie led the team in tackles at linebacker while Kenny Willekes had 8.5 sacks at defensive end.
The Spartans have a comfortable non-conference schedule with three home games. They host Tulsa and Western Michigan before looking to avenge a loss at Arizona State last year when they host the Sun Devils on Sept. 14. In Big Ten play, MSU will host Indiana, Penn State, Illinois and Maryland. The Spartans will have road trips to Northwestern, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Rutgers.
The schedule isn’t too favorable for Michigan State this year. Trips to Northwestern, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan could all be losses. While MSU is a gritty team known for upsets, they also have a lot of close calls that lead to some bad losses. I don’t see the Spartans improving so much on offense that it cures their problems. While the MSU defense should be one of the best in the country again, you need to score points to win in college football. Should the Spartans lose those four road games, they have to win all the rest to hit the over. I can’t trust them to do that.
College Football Prediction: Michigan State Under 7.5 wins -115