Michigan State Football Predictions

The Michigan State Spartans are coming off one of the most successful seasons in school history. Michigan State finished the regular season 11-1 with a perfect 8-0 record inside Big Ten Play to win the Legends. The Spartans would then upset No. 2 and undefeated Ohio State 34-24 in the Big Ten Championship Game and follow that up with a 24-20 victory over No. 5 Standford in the Rose Bowl to end the year 13-1.

It was quite a turnaround for Michigan State, who went just 3-5 inside conference play in 2012. The Spartans became the first Big Ten team to go 8-0 with all 8 of their win coming by double-digits. Head coach Mark Dantonio is entering his 8th season on the job and has now delivered the school three 10+ win campaigns in the last 4 years.

Last Season
Big Ten (Legends)
ATS Record
Points For
Points Against
2014 Michigan State Spartans Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
8/29 Jackson State
9/6 @ Oregon
9/20 Eastern Michigan
9/27 Wyoming
10/4 Nebraska
10/11 @ Purdue
10/18 @ Indiana
10/25 Michigan
11/8 Ohio State
11/15 @ Maryland
11/22 Rutgers
11/29 @ Penn State
Estimated Wins: 9.62

The goal coming into 2014 will not only be to defend their Big Ten title, but participate in the new four-team playoff. The good news for Michigan State is they get back 7 starters on offense, including junior quarterback Connor Cook and 1,000-yard rusher Jeremy Langford, who both emerged into stars for this team as the season wore on. The big concern for the Spartans is how their defense will handle the loss of four big time players in Darqueze Dennard (CB), Max Bullough (LB), Denicos Allen (LB) and Isaiah Lewis (SS).

There’s a good chance that Michigan State’s defense will regress from last year’s impressive numbers. The Spartans finished with an impressive 19.1 defensive yards per point (ypp). Which means for every 100 yards of total offense they gave up, opponents on average were only able to come away with 5.2 points. To give you an idea of just how good that is, Michigan State’s average defensive ypp over the previous 5-years was just 15.7. Given the players they lost on this side of the ball, there’s little to no doubt that the Spartans will regress to some extent in 2014.

One of the reasons Michigan State had such a high defensive ypp, is they were one of the top teams in the country in protecting the football and forcing the other team into mistakes. The Spartans finished T-8th in the country with a +13 turnover margin. While this has been a theme under Dantonio (positive TO margin 6 of 7 years), their next best turnover margin was +7 back in 2011. This is yet another key area where Michigan State’s fortune is pointed in the wrong direction.

The key thing to note is that only Dennard was selected in the NFL draft, so it’s not like they are losing elite talent that can’t be replaced. Michigan State has a history of developing players and just brought in the 24th ranked recruiting class in the country. The defense won’t be as dominant, but I don’t think it’s going to suffer as big of a drop off as others.

One of the positives for Michigan State is their schedule, at least inside conference play. While the Spartans are now on the same side as Ohio State in the newly formed Big Ten East, they get the Buckeyes at home in what many believe will be the matchup that decides who plays in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans also get arguably their two next toughest opponents in Nebraska and Michigan at home. Hard to complain with a conference road schedule of Purdue, Indiana, Maryland and Penn State.

Regular Season Win Total
Big Ten Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
7 to 2
27 to 1
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
Season Predictions

There’s no denying that Michigan State overachieved last year and for that reason are going to be getting more respect from the books going in 2014. However, the Spartans win total has been set at 9.5. This is interesting to note, as Michigan State is expected to be favored in every one of their conference games. While they do have to go on the road to face Oregon, even if they lose that contest they can afford a loss in the Big Ten and still finish OVER their 9.5 win total. I personally don’t see enough value here, but I do have the Spartans finishing up at 11-1.

It can be difficult to not let last year’s results get in the way. There’s going to be a lot of public bettors who will be all over the Spartans because of the fact that they went 10-4 ATS in 2013. It’s no guarantee that Michigan State will have a losing ATS record, but there’s a good chance of it. Keep in mind that the Spartans finished 10-4 ATS in 2011 and came back the next year and went 5-8 ATS. It’s going to be important to pick your spots with Michigan State. Best bet will probably be to fade this team almost every time they are laying more than 14-points inside conference play.

2014 Projections
Big Ten (East)
Big Ten Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
OVER 9.5
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