Michigan State Spartans Football Team Preview 2019: Odds and Predictions

2018 Season in Review

From an offensive standpoint, the Michigan State Spartans were tough to watch as they ranked 126th in scoring among FBS schools. Thankfully, coach Mark Dantonio was able to lean on the eighth ranked scoring defense in the country. Although that unit only coughed up more than 30 points just once all season, they could not make up for the offense which put forth four single digit performances in 2018, while averaging just 342.1 total yards per game.

Two of those games came in losses to Big Ten heavyweights Ohio State (26-6) and Michigan (21-7), while another came against 4-8 Nebraska in Lincoln (9-6). The Spartans’ season was summed up perfectly in the Redbox Bowl against Oregon, with Sparty falling to the Ducks 7-6.

Key Returning Players (2018 Stats)

  • RB Connor Heyward (Junior) – 778 Scrimmage Yards | 32 Receptions | 5 Rush TD
  • WR Cody White (Junior) – 42 Receptions | 555 Rec Yards | 3 Total TD
  • DE Kenny Willekes (Redshirt Senior) – 78 Total Tackles | 20.5 TFL | 8.0 Sacks
  • MLB Joe Bachie (Senior) – 102 Total Tackles | 9.0 TFL | 2 Forced Fumbles

Redshirt senior quarterback Brian Lewerke is the likely man behind center, as the Arizona native will look to improve on his eight touchdown, 11 interception output from 2018. Top rusher Connor Heyward is back in East Lansing, as are receiving targets Cody White and Darrell Stewart Jr. The offensive line should prove to be reliable with redshirt seniors Cole Chewins and Tyler Higby solidifying the left side.

The defense should pick up where it left off in 2018, as leading tackler Joe Bachie is back for his senior season. Bachie will likely be supported on the outside by linebackers Antjuan Simmons and Tyriq Thompson who will be taking on expanded roles. Defensive end Kenny Willekes will look to be disruptive once again coming off the edge, with run stuffers Mike Panasiuk and Raequan Williams dominating the trenches. Redshirt seniors Josh Butler and David Dowell will aim to keep opposing air attacks at bay.

Key Departures

  • CB Justin Layne (NFL Draft)
  • RB L.J. Scott (Graduation)
  • WR Felton Davis (Graduation)
  • S Khari Willis (Graduation)

Part of the reason why the Spartans are expected to rebound is due to the relative minimal loss of talent due to graduation and the NFL Draft. Corner Justin Layne opted to leave school early and was rewarded with a third round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fellow defensive back Khari Willis was MSU’s other draft pick, going to the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round.

The offense will be without running back L.J. Scott, whose senior season did not play out like previous seasons and has reportedly quit playing the sport altogether. Receiver Felton Davis is also no longer around due to graduation.

Notable Recruits (Star Ratings and Rankings According to Rivals.com)

  • OT Devontae Dobbs – 4 Star | 6-4, 297lb | Belleville HS | Belleville, MI
  • WR Tre’Von Morgan – 4 Star | 6-6, 215lb | Washington HS | Massillon, OH
  • CB Julian Barnett – 4 Star | 6-2, 180lb | Belleville HS | Belleville, MI
  • MLB Luke Fulton – 3 Star | 6-3, 215lb | Cardinal Mooney HS | Youngstown. OH

The Spartans put in a decent effort with regards to recruiting, locking up two of the top five prospects in Michigan in high school teammates Devontae Dobbs and Julian Barnett. The coaching staff lists Barnett as a corner, however he is expected to slot in at multiple positions due to his athleticism. Dobbs is accompanied by fellow o-line recruit Spencer Brown while the offense should get a boost from big receivers in Tre’Von Morgan and Tre Mosley.

Michigan State Spartans 2019 Schedule

Date Opponent
August 30th Tulsa
September 7th Western Michigan
September 14th Arizona State
September 21st @ Northwestern
September 28th Indiana
October 5th @ Ohio State
October 12th @ Wisconsin
October 26th Penn State
November 9th Illinois
November 16th @ Michigan
November 23rd @ Rutgers
November 30th Maryland

If the Spartans expect to compete for the Big Ten title, it will be an uphill battle to say the least. Michigan State will have to go back-to-back weekends on the road against Ohio State and Wisconsin, where wins will tough to come by. The road trip to Northwestern prior to homecoming against Indiana could be a trap game, while their rivalry game against Michigan in the Big House will entertaining.

Where to Bet on Win Totals in New Jersey

New Jersey residents can log on to 888Sport to wager on Michigan State’s win total. With an over/under of 7.5 wins, the Spartans’ tough schedule will be tricky to navigate through.

Number of Games Won – Excluding Bowl Games & Play Offs

Regular season only. Conference championship games do not count.

Sportsbook Over 7.5 Under 7.5 Link
888Sport NJ -155 +125

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER