Don't sleep on the Spartans in 2016

Michigan State in familiar territory
Don't sleep on the Spartans in 2016
Posted at 1:22 PM, Aug 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 16:52:04-04

Tell me if you have heard this before. Fall camp is going on throughout college football and in the Big Ten, the talk revolves around the talent of Ohio State, Michigan's sudden rise back to the top, and Iowa's encore from a year ago.

Did you notice no mention of Michigan State? Pretty common these days. The defending Big Ten champion is used to be overlooked and forgotten in the big picture conversation.

Since 2011 MSU has appeared in three Big Ten championship games and have claimed two titles (2013, 2015) and an appearance in the 2016 College Football Playoff yet Mark Dantonio's program seems to get disregarded in the title race almost every year.

Sparty will have it's obstacles in 2016 beginning with replacing 2 year starting quarterback Connor Cook. That task falls in the hands of senior Tyler O' Connor who has one career start. That start however, was a road game in Columbus during an enormous win over Ohio State.

Replacing offensive line standouts Jack Allen and Jack Conklin will also be challenging but State does return seniors Ben McGowan (G), Cody Kieler (T) and Josiah Price (TE). Some key offensive weapons remain in the lineup with running back L.J. Scott and wide receiver R.J. Shelton.

The offense like most years, will have some catching up to do but that has never been the identity of this program. It comes down to nasty defense and Sparty has a good one in 2016.

Junior nose tackle Malik McDowell anchors the front four with the line backing group led by senior Riley Bullough and the return of Ed Davis. The secondary had it's issues especially in the playoff game against Alabama but almost every member returns.

It's a veteran group that some have called Dantonio's best yet. So why the doubt? Is Michigan that good? Can Ohio State make up for a large number of bodies that went to the NFL? All I know is that it's August and Michigan State is being forgotten in the Big Ten East race again. What else is new?

This is how Dantonio prefers it and it seems to bring that rare smile to his face. Look out for Michigan State in 2016. They haven't gone anywhere.

For more on Michigan State's upcoming season, listen to Joe Quinn and I talk to Hondo Carpenter of Spartan Nation below.