The Michigan State Spartans
Last season's record: 11 – 2 overall / Big Ten 7 – 1 (T – 1)
Returning starters/letter winners: 15/49
Greg Jones – MLB – Jones was the heart of the Spartans defense the past three seasons and his production will be missed.
Eric Gordon – OLB - While Jones was the heart of the defense, it was Gordon who was the soul. While Gordon may not have gotten the press of his teammate, he will be just as missed when the whistle blows.
Aaron Bates – P – It is not often when a punter is listed as a key loss. However, Bates was more than just a guy expected to kick the ball as he also played the key part in two major special team plays (Little Giants – Mouse Trap) that helped the Spartans to two key victories in 2010.
Kirk Cousins – QB – The senior signal caller is the team’s leader on and off the field and is expected to have his biggest season as a Spartan this fall.
Edwin Baker – RB – The workhorse running back expects to have an even bigger season than his 1,201 yards rushing in 2010.
Jerel Worthy – DT – One of the top defenders in the Big Ten is getting early talk as one of the top picks in next spring’s NFL Draft. If Worthy can stay healthy the Spartans are solid in the middle of their line.
Best games: Sept. 17 @ Notre Dame Stadium vs. Notre Dame - Oct. 29 @ Memorial Stadium vs. Nebraska
Projected finish: 10-2
Outlook: The defending Big Ten Champions may be better than they were in 2010. However, their record may not show it as they have a tough road test against Notre Dame early to go with road games at Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa. The offense has key weapons but will need solid offensive line play to be successful while the defense must replace three key players in Jones, Gordon and Chris L. Rucker.