In the world of NCAA preseason predictions, everyone thinks of themselves as a genius concerning the gridiron. From two-bit frat boys to nationally-renowned analysts, everyone has an “inside scoop” as to how certain teams will fare in the coming season.
That being said, ESPN Insider, Phil Steele, certainly holds much more weight than others when it comes to preseason estimations. On Tuesday, Steele released a list of the nation’s top nine teams he forecasts as the Most Improved Programs for the 2013 season, and on that list was none other than Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State Spartans.
The prediction comes not long after sports website Football Outsiders made the claim that Michigan State was a Dark Horse contender for the BCS national championship this season, and while certainly not boasting a claim as exorbitant as that, Steele’s list does seem to be putting a lot of faith into the Spartans’ basket – something that perennially comes back to bite the fans of the Green and White in the end.
For his reasoning in the latest list, Steele marks the Spartans’ upcoming 2013 schedule as the biggest factor in their impending comeback. Hammered by a tough schedule over the past two seasons, Michigan State will not see either the Buckeyes of Ohio State, nor the continually-frustrating Badgers of Wisconsin on this year’s docket. Plus, MSU will get to face in-state rival, Michigan, in the friendly confines of East Lansing’s Spartan Stadium.
“The main reason for the expected improvement for the Spartans lies in a much more manageable schedule this year,” Steele writes. “Conference favorites Wisconsin and Ohio State drop off in cross-divisional play, while Purdue and Illinois are added.
“Overall, a return to a double-digit win season like 2010 and 2011 is not out of the question this year and would allow the Spartans to improve by three or more wins.”
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.