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State News football reporters predict outcomes for the 2014 season

August 29, 2014

A season full of high expectations and dreams has finally arrived for No. 6 MSU  as Jacksonville State comes to Spartan Stadium on Friday.

MSU returns key pieces from last year’s Rose Bowl winning team and is projected by some to compete in the first ever College Football Playoff this season. However, Robert Bondy and Geoff Preston might not feel the same way about the green-and-white’s chances in 2014.

Here’s a look at a game-by-game breakdown of how The State News’ football experts see things shaking out for MSU.

Robert Bondy’s predictions:

Aug. 29  - Jacksonville State

The new season will kick off for the green-and-white with a little more excitement than many anticipated. The Gamecocks of Jacksonville State have beaten FBS  teams in the past and are ranked No. 6 in the FCS  so don’t count this one as a guarantee win. Head Coach Mark Dantonio  considers this one a statement game, and in the end MSU is too talented and deep to let this one become a colossal upset.  MSU-41 Jacksonville State-20.

Sept. 6 - at No. 3 Oregon

The Ducks have been one of the country’s most consistent programs in the last 10 years and will be a tall task for MSU. A young Spartan secondary will have its hands full with Heisman candidate junior quarterback Marcus Mariota  and will be tested by the uptempo Oregon offense. MSU hangs in there, but comes up just short in a tough road trip early in the season.  MSU-24 Oregon-27.

Sept. 20 - Eastern Michigan

Coming off a bye week  following a loss to Oregon, MSU will be ready to expose a weak Eastern Michigan. Expect junior quarterback Connor Cook to throw for more than 300 yards and lead MSU to an easy win to get back above .500.  MSU-45 Eastern Michigan-6.

Sept. 27 - Wyoming

MSU will celebrate homecoming  with another smooth win, this time over Wyoming. The Cowboys kept it close with Nebraska last season and have proven to be a solid mid-major program, but under a new head coach  they’ll have a tough time in Spartan Stadium.  MSU-34 Wyoming-13.

Oct. 4 - No. 22 Nebraska

The Huskers are one of the toughest opponents MSU will play in 2014, but coming to Spartan Stadium under the lights is never easy for opponents. The game will be close all the way up until the fourth quarter when junior cornerback Trae Waynes  takes back an interception for a touchdown to make it a double digit lead and puts the final nail in the coffin.  MSU-31 Nebraska-20.

Oct. 11 - at Purdue

This one won’t ever be close and for a second straight year MSU will shut out the Boilermakers.  Purdue is expected to improve on its 1-11 season  (hard to not go up) but still are in a rebuilding process that leaves them light years behind Dantonio’s bunch.  MSU-34 Purdue-0.

Oct. 18 - at Indiana

This one serves as a trap game for the Spartans with Indiana capable of pulling the upset. The Hoosiers boast a potent offense that will be able to put up points, but its defense won’t be enough to slow down Cook and senior running back Jeremy Langford  as MSU survives a scare down in Bloomington, Ind.   MSU-38 Indiana-31.

Oct. 25 - Michigan

MSU has had U-M’s number during the Dantonio era and 2014 won’t be any different. MSU will once again create plenty of pressure on the defensive front, and while U-M will improve upon last year’s -48 rushing yards  the Wolverines still won’t experience much success on the ground. MSU makes it six of the last seven in another double digit victory.  MSU-27 U-M-17.

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Nov. 8 - No. 5 Ohio State

About two weeks ago this one was considered potentially one of the biggest games in the country this year. However, the season ending injury to Buckeye senior quarterback Braxton Miller  has put a damper on Ohio State and the game. Don’t expect Ohio State to fall off the world, but the injury to Miller definitely makes this an easier matchup for the green-and-white.  MSU-31 Ohio State-24

Nov. 15 - at Maryland

This is where MSU’s run hits a speed bump with Maryland doing the unthinkable in pulling off the upset. It’s simply too hard to run the table in conference play two years in a row and going to Maryland for a primetime night game late in the season is where Sparty finally stumbles. Maryland has just enough offense power to hold on and ruin MSU’s college football playoff dreams.  MSU-23 Maryland-27

Nov. 22 - Rutgers

MSU won’t let the newbies sneak up on them in back-to-back weeks when Rutgers comes to town. Expect MSU to make easy work of a struggling Scarlet Knights  squad and send the seniors out with one final win in Spartan Stadium.  MSU-31 Rutgers-13

Nov. 29 - at Penn State

The final regular season game of the year will have plenty of implications for MSU, and they’ll come through. Penn State will come out firing with an extremely talented sophomore quarterback in Christian Hackenberg,  but simply won’t have enough to complete the upset. The Spartans pull it out late on a senior wide receiver Tony Lippett  touchdown to clinch a second straight trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game.  MSU-27 Penn State-20

Overall Record: 10-2 (7-1 in Big Ten and East Division Champs )

Preston’s Predictions

Aug. 29 - Jacksonville State

This game won’t be the cakewalk that many Spartan fans anticipate. JSU is ranked 6th in the country at the FCS level and run a similar, spread style offense that has given MSU trouble in the past.  MSU-44 Jacksonville State-21

Sep. 6 - No. 3 Oregon

Close, hard fought game that might come down to who has the ball last. For as much trouble as teams like MSU give Oregon it’s teams like Oregon that give MSU the most trouble. Autzen Stadium  also tends to get loud.  Oregon-24- MSU-21

Sep. 20 - Eastern Michigan

The Eagles  won two games last year and ranked 114th in points for and 124th in points against. This will be a lot of the same.  MSU-40 Eastern Michigan-3

Sep. 27 - Wyoming

Spartan fans probably don’t know much about the Cowboys. The team went 5-7 last season behind a productive offense and a weak defense. Not a lot has changed for the Cowboys and the score should reflect that.  MSU-45 Wyoming-24

Oct. 6 - No. 22 Nebraska

The Big Ten opener is a tough one for MSU, as Nebraska looks for revenge after losing to the Spartans last year. Stud running back Ameer Abdullah  comes back after posting over 1,500 yards last season,  and many predict he will continue to get the rock the majority of the time in 2014. MSU’s defense will be one of the only teams this year to slow down that attack in a good ‘ol fashion Big Ten brawl.  MSU-24 NEB-14

Oct. 13 - at Purdue

Purdue is probably the worst team in the Big Ten. Not probably, they are. The Boilermakers won zero conference games last season, and although it looks like they’ve improved (it would be hard to be worse), an improvement on 1-11 is hard to get behind, even if the game is in West Lafayette.   MSU-38 PUR-3

Oct. 20 - at Indiana

MSU’s tour through the hoosier state heads south to Bloomington as they visit Indiana on the road. This game should worry MSU fans, and depending on how the first game against Jacksonville State goes we will know a lot about how MSU is equipped to handle a fast paced offense that runs a lot of plays. The two offenses have a lot of similarities , as well as Oregon. Indiana’s defense is their Achilles’ heel, and a big one. I think we’re going to see a shootout.  MSU-47 IND-41

Oct. 25 - Michigan

MSU has owned this rivalry game for most of Mark Dantonio’s tenure. Last season you and I had more rushing yards than all of Michigan’s offense on gameday. Michigan has been mediocre and Brady Hoke  is fighting to keep his job. I just can’t see Michigan being as bad as they have been for much longer, at some point talent does win out. Keeping that in mind I still think MSU gets the close win, but Michigan is due for a resurgence.  MSU-20 U-M-17

Nov. 8 - No. 5 Ohio State

The scheduling gods were kind to MSU this season, as almost every tough opponent visits East Lansing this season. Ohio State was the game most people circled on the calendar once the schedule came out, anticipating it would be for the East Division championship. While that might still be the case, the injury gods were also very kind to the Spartans when they took Braxton Miller for their own before the season started. Ohio State is still deep and if this game was in Columbus I might have a different opinion. However the game is still in East Lansing, and I think the Spartans get the win and clinch the East.  MSU-27 Ohio State-20

Nov. 15 - at Maryland

MSU heads east to face off with the Big Ten’s newcomer in College Park, under the lights. This would be an easy game to not get up for. I see the East Division already being MSU’s by this point in the season, and under the lights in what will probably be the biggest game for the Terrapins  this year makes it easy to see why Maryland might pull the upset. I don’t think that a team that looked so middle-of-the-road on their way to a 7-6 record  last season will be able to beat MSU.  MSU-30 Maryland-20

Nov. 22 - Rutgers

The other new Big Ten team comes to East Lansing in a game that MSU should take care of. Rutgers has athletes, but has struggled with consistency in recent years. These are the kind of games that MSU has struggled with in the past (think Minnesota last season), games that follow a streak of competitive opponents were MSU needs to grind out a win. Might happen again here.  MSU-21 Rutgers-6

Nov. 29 - at Penn State

This is the other time I see MSU slipping up. Since coming off the high of beating Michigan and Ohio State there are lulls in the schedule of the Spartans. This is where the lull becomes an issue. James Franklin is a good coach and although depth is an issue, stud QB Christian Hackenberg  threw for nearly 3,000 yards  during his true freshman season. MSU has had the division wrapped up for a while and I can see complacency setting in for MSU.  Penn State-21 MSU-18

Overall Record: 10-2 (7-1 in Big Ten and East Division champions)


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