Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 Dec 2011

ESPN: MSU, WVU Will Take Next Step

Back-to-back 10-win seasons at Michigan State is just the beginning for Mark Dantonio at Michigan State. Heading into next season, the Spartans are likely to be one of the top programs still seeking a BCS bowl bid, and they'll still be at the head of the class in the Big Ten Legends division. West Virginia is another good candidate to make noise in 2012 even with a move to the Big 12 and a tougher schedule.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 20 Dec 2011

13 comments, Last at 22 Dec 2011, 7:58pm by Turin


by Anon (not verified) :: Tue, 12/20/2011 - 10:38pm

I don't have Insider access, but the mention of MSU certainly is odd. They are losing their top offensive player (QB Cousins), their top defensive player (DT Worthy) and their all-time record-holder WR (Cunningham), among other offensive playmakers. They do return their RB platoon and much of their offensive line, but considering that they will have to play Boise State early and a new and improved Ohio State, along with other up-and-comers like Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska, that certainly doesn't look like a nice schedule for a team with a new starter at QB and no recent history of success. This could easily be like the 2009 season, after they lost Ringer and Hoyer and finished just 6-6 in the regular season, and lost the Alamo Bowl against Texas Tech.

What exactly does the article highlight to make this statement?

by Stones1981 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:04am

It talks about how MSU had a top ten aggregate defense this year while playing the 3rd toughest set of opposing offenses. Yes, they lose Worthy, but they return 8 starters on defense who all earned at least all big ten honorable mention. They also return 10 of 11 back ups. Their will be question marks with their passing game, but they literally return almost everyone else in their two deep along the o-line, at RB, the whole defense as well as the kicker and punter. It's a very young team overall.

You say they have no recent history of success but they won their division this year and tied for the big ten title last year. These last two years were the first ones Dantonio had his guys as seniors and both were ranked as only the 8th best recruiting classes in the big ten. Do you know who has the most wins in Big Ten play over the last 4 years? It's MSU.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:18pm

I don't know how Wisconsin is described as an up and comer when the team has won the last two Big Ten titles

by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:17am

Wvu going on up to the eastside vety good observation by B. Fremeau. have good coaching g. ood qb goodvrecruits good wvrything reallly. Cannot click the espon thing but imagine it say all thay sguff but better wtiting and more flwshed out

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:41pm

And as a long-time Big Ten observer, anyone breaking in a young qb is going to lose at least one game they should win solely because the fella is still learning. I have seen this multiple times at UW where a team with vets at other positions goes 9-3 or 8-4 because the guy at qb makes some bad decisions and/or bad turnovers.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 12:46pm

Do you think that the Badgers may start having more opportunity at national qb prospects, with the way Chryst runs an offense. It seems to me that having a Gibbs-like approach that emphasizes good running, godd play action, witht e vertical game featured as well, would be attractive to a guy who thinks he can get drafted in the first round.

If the Badgers start recruiting qb prospects of that caliber, look out.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 1:06pm

Allegedly that is happening. They have some hotshot qb coming in for next year but BB is giving a hard look at the Notre Dame transfer because he would prefer a vet rather than a freshman. The legit options right behind Wilson are coming off serious injuries.

I will believe it when I see it.

And frankly, I prefer WI stay with quarterbacks who have to claw their way to a starting job versus coming in as the Prince Dauphin.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 3:52pm

Hey, I'm a Gopher alum; I'm happy if the Gophers manage to recruit well enough to get back to the Music City Bowl.

by bigtencrazy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 2:03pm

This will likely read as stupid, but I am uneasy with the Badgers getting 'top recruits'

I prefer guys who have to scrap for their dinner if that makes any sense.

by NYMike :: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:41pm

Many of Wisconsin's top recruits are Wisconsin born and bred offensive linemen. I'm fine with that.

by Turin :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 4:13am

Just about anything has to be better than the constant string of horrible to mediocre quarterbacks WI had been fielding until this year. They've been just a good QB away from being a national contender for almost 2 decades. Hell they won a Rose Bowl with Ron Dayne and some idiot who couldn't even throw a punch, much less a football. How Bolinger or Sorgi ever made it on to NFL rosters I will never understand.

Scrappy is nice, but it isn't a sufficient replacement for actual talent.

by NYMike :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:22pm

You are thoroughly underrating Scott Tolzien. Could it be that the people that evaluate NFL talent know more about Sorgi and Bollinger that you do?

by Turin :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 7:58pm

Given their lifetime stats, I'd say NFL talent evaluators reached basically the same conclusions I did.

Compare the Badger's offence between this year and last year and it's pretty obvious that Tolzien was solidly mediocre as well (granted, that was a step up for WI). Despite losing 3/5 of their O-line (2/5 to the 1st and 3rd rounds of the NFL draft) and their starting running back, the offense was greatly improved with the addition of a transfer QB that didn't start working out with the team until July. Wilson is the first above-average QB to play at WI since before Alvarez arrived.