The College Football Futures Lock Of The Week

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Michigan State

Gambling is part of our entrepreneurial spirit, offsetting our lost earning potential while trapped in academia. At least, that’s how we justify the “Schinzu Intl” foreign transaction fees on our debit card statement.

I’m an addict; I admit it. But hey, just because I jerk off doesn’t mean I should quit sex, right? Since we’re inevitably going to surf the murky waters of offshore gambling legality, we might as well import substantial funds back to this country. It’s patriotism.

Like Ari Gold said, “money won feels so much better than money earned.” So here’s my absolute lock of the week:

Pick: Michigan State OVER 7.5 total wins

The Team:

Somehow, the perpetually underestimated Spartans enter 2016, again, terribly underrated. Coach Mark Dantonio, tasked with replacing two All-American linemen and perhaps the greatest QB in Michigan State history, has guided the Spartans to the most successful four-year stretch in program history, averaging nearly 11 wins per season.

Admittedly, however, I do not think this is one of the stronger MSU squads Dantonio has assembled during his tenure in East Lansing. Michigan State is uncharacteristically young, replacing three captains and eight multiple year starters — six of which earned All-Conference honors during their careers. Whoever wins the QB job, a battle between Damion Terry and Tyler O’Connor, will be a bigger step down from Connor Cook than Michigan-to-Michigan State’s academics.

How can we keep doubting this coaching staff? Dantonio has compiled the three highest rated recruiting classes of his career consecutively, stocking the Spartans, at least on paper, with perhaps the best overall depth in decades. Junior defensive end Malik McDowell might be the best defensive player in the nation — a terror on the line rushing the quarterback and against the run. Michigan State is loaded at running back starting with returning rushing leader LJ Scott, and you’d expect to again be stellar on defense having finished in the top four of the conference every year since Dantonio’s arrival.

The Schedule:

Locks: Furman, Indiana, Illinois, Rutgers

Obviously, the Paladins of wherever the fuck Furman is will not be an issue, nor should perennial Big 10 bottom dwellers Indiana and Rutgers, especially after the Hoosiers’ loss of star running back Jordan Howard. Illinois will likely be better under new Coach Lovie Smith, but he will need time to extinguish the raging dumpster fire an abusive fired coach and interim head man Bill Cubit started that engulfed the program.

Should Win: Maryland, Wisconsin

Caleb Rowe is legitimately the worst QB I’ve ever seen, and you just hired a head coach with two years of experience…as a coordinator. Nice. You’ve also lost the best recruit in your own state every year since Stefon Diggs. As for Wisconsin, it’s going to be a very long year in Madison experiencing the growing pains of a new (and possibly freshman) QB and loss of all of 2015’s captains.

Toss Up: BYU, Northwestern, Michigan, Penn State

BYU returns QB Taysom Hill, but after the stellar first year of Tanner Mangum and loss of Bronco Mendenhall, I don’t know what is going on in Provo. I’m tempted to say Northwestern will be terrible, but Coach Pat Fitzgerald consistently fields a competitive team that is far better than their recruiting rankings. Michigan is supposedly “back” as we hear every August, but a team that is 2-14 in their last 16 against their rivals and hasn’t beaten MSU in East Lansing since 2007, it’s hard to consider 2016 anything but a toss up. Finally, Penn State is a dumpster fire but this is a legitimate rivalry, and with James Franklin a man likely coaching for his life and insanity of Happy Valley, this could go either way.

Should Lose: Notre Dame, Ohio State

Two of the three most talented teams on the Spartans schedule. An inexperienced quarterback will not lead Michigan State to victory in South Bend over what might be the most experienced Notre Dame team of Brian Kelly’s tenure. The Buckeyes are out for revenge after last year’s mid-hurricane loss in Columbus, an actual act of nature that kept Ohio State from the Big Ten championship game and the college football playoff.

Projection:

Michigan State gets all of their “toss up” matchups at home, a massive advantage at the college level, as the home team won over 70% of conference games last season. The Spartans simply need to win their four “locks,” and a combined four of their six “should win/toss up” games, 2/3 of which will kickoff in East Lansing.

Early in the season the Spartan Dogs defense and power rush attack guides the Spartans as a new QB gets comfortable taking over for Connor Cook. I think Michigan State loses only three games: Notre Dame, Michigan, and Ohio State. Finishing 9-3 overall with a Citrus Bowl berth.

To steal a line from ESPN’ Scott Van Pelt: “Bet the mortgage payment. This one’s a lock.”

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