Michigan State Spartans 2012

Michigan State 2011 Statistics

(Big Ten) The Spartans play on a grass field at Spartan Stadium (seats 75,005)

  • Mark Dantonio is in his 6th year as head coach at Michigan State. In 2011 the Spartans finished with an 11-3 record and had double-digit wins for the 2nd straight year (11-2 in 2010). Michigan State played in the first ever BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP GAME against Wisconsin, but lost 42-39.  The beat Wisconsin in the regular season 37-31 with a thrilling 44-yard Hail Mary pass from Kirk Cousins to Keith Nichol.  This team is not unfamiliar with thrilling last minute wins.  In 2010, they won against Notre Dame in OT with a fake field goal.  But following that game, Dantonio suffered a heart attack and missed four games.  The Bowl game for the Spartans this year against Georgia 33-30 (in TRIPLE OT) was yet another thriller that MSU came out on top of—and gained Big Ten redemption since they had been crushed by another SEC opponent, Alabama, in the prior year’s bowl game (49-7) and had also lost to Georgia in the 2008 season bowl game.
  • They play home games at Spartan Stadium, which is so loud that Stanley Kubrick used a recording of the crowd noise during the 1959 Notre Dame vs Michigan State game in his film Spartacus (1960).
  • Only five starters return on offense.  And the biggest issue there is the loss of three-year starter and MSU’s all-time passing leader Kirk Cousins. Andrew Maxwell replaces him and has some playing experience, but not much.  And it’s going to be tough for Maxwell to compete with what Spartans fans saw last year with Cousins leading the way for schools records for the most passing yards in a season and the most points.
  • Le’Veon Bell was last year’s leading rusher (beating out Edwin Baker who led the team with 1200 yards rushing in 2010). Bell didn’t quite hit 1,000 yards rushing as expected last year, perhaps due in part to the loss of players on the Offensive Line.  They had to replace three starters and then also lost their Center to injury.  This year four starters return, which should help the running game too off-set the issues they will have on offense with a new QB.  (Follow Bell on Twitter).  Especially with the top 4 receivers gone from last year, the passing game is certainly going to have a lot of work to do.

    Running Back Le'Veon Bell

  • The good news is that the defense returns 8 starters from the 2011 team that led the Big Ten in total defense and was 6th in the nation. And this came despite the fact that last year’s defense had to start off with new personnel (replacing 4 of their top 5 tacklers).  And unlike most defenses that lead due to the domination in one area, the Spartans defense was equally good stopping the run and the pass.  The fact that 8 of the top 9 tacklers on the team are back puts this defense in great shape. And the passing defense should continue to improve with the return of three players.  As should the scoring defense with the return of all of the linebackers.  The only question is the defensive line—they did fantastic last year but do lose two starters (including a 2nd round NFL Draft pick). Sacks had plummeted the year before, but last year they got to the QB 45 times (compared to 20 times in 2010)! That’s their highest number since 2003 and tied for second most for a Michigan State team all-time.
  • This year the first game of the season is against new opponent Boise State, but the Broncos will be breaking in a new quarterback.  Their schedule is pretty difficult, with Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska. They should have a winning season, but they may not reach more than 7 or 8 wins.