College Football Rankings Countdown: No. 12 Michigan State Spartans

Campus Insiders’ College Football Rankings slates the Michigan State Spartans as No. 12 in the preseason top 25. Here are the five things that matter about the 2016 Spartans.

Putting the power in a Power 5 champion

While Connor Cook’s departure is massive, Michigan State has an easy way to make life just fine for the new starting quarterback – hand it off to the power backs.

L.J. Scott, Gerald Holmes and Madre London are a potentially devastating threesome who should keep the Spartans steady while everything else comes together. And it’s not like the quarterback situation is a dud with Tyler O’Connor – he won the Ohio State game – and Damion Terry being two solid options.

What happened to the No Fly Zone?

It’s Michigan State, so the defense will be solid overall. However, the secondary needs to be stronger after getting hit hard throughout last season. Mediocre quarterbacks fired at will against the Spartans, but this time around, if all goes according to plan, coming up with regular third down stops will be enough for the Spartans’ defense. After giving up 200 passing yards nine times, it has to mean something to be a Michigan State defensive back.

It’s Michigan State, the defense will be fine

Starting with future NFL defensive tackle Malik McDowell manning the interior, the other parts should fill in the gaps on the front seven. This will be a young, energetic defense that should make up for mistakes by being a bit more aggressive, and yes, the secondary will turn out to be a positive as the season goes on.

Just keep on picking against them

The Vegas “investors” love Michigan. The polls love Ohio State. Michigan State not getting any respect isn’t anything new, but a program that has won two of the last three Big Ten championships – and is good enough to do it again – deserves some time in the spotlight.

This has the potential to be one of Mark Dantonio’s best teams yet if the offensive line comes together in a hurry, the quarterback play is consistent and the special teams are stronger. One thing about Dantonio and his staff, they know how to fix things.

What’s going to happen?

The Spartans will be really, really good again, but it’s not going to be enough to get back to Indianapolis for another Big Ten championship. They’ll go 9-3 with a heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame early on, and then roll through the first part of the Big Ten schedule – Michigan included – before losing the final two showdowns against Ohio State and Penn State.

MORE: 2016 Preseason College Football Rankings, No. 1-128