Why MSU can repeat in the Big Ten
Ample offense, stout D and favorable slate make Spartans league contenders
One sure way to clinch the golden-age mantle would be to post consecutive Big Ten titles for only the second time in school history. So what are the odds the Spartans can do that despite losing 10 starters, including two dominant linebackers (Denicos Allen and Max Bullough) and the Jim Thorpe Award winner for best defensive back in college football (Darqueze Dennard)?
After reviewing the game tape, metrics and recruiting gains, it looks like Michigan State's chances are extremely good to again take the conference title.
The Spartans are still going to be a defense-centric team, but the collection of talent on offense is more than strong enough to carry its share of the load in 2014.
It starts with quarterback Connor Cook. He progressed quite well last year, as from November through the end of the season, Cook posted a 73.3 Adjusted Total QBR mark that ranked second in the Big Ten in that time frame. Adjusted Total QBR factors in strength of schedule and thus indicates Cook was highly effective even when accounting for the quality of opponent. Coach Mark Dantonio indicated that part of Cook's success is because "He doesn't overthink things. He can let the negative go."
To read KC Joyner's complete 2014 preview of the Michigan State Spartans and why they can repeat as Big Ten champs, become an ESPN Insider.
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