In our Michigan State edition of the 2018 Opponent Q&A series, I sat down with good friend, and Michigan State writer, McLain Moberg of TheOnlyColors.com.
Join us as we discuss the Big Ten Title race, bold predictions and more!
Josh LaFond: Are Spartan fans in full “division title or bust” mode, or are they still a year away from returning to that level?
McLain Moberg: You hit the nail on the head Josh, Michigan State is certainly another year away from competing for division titles again.
The Big Ten East goes through Ohio State and the Spartans simply don’t have enough to challenge the Buckeyes for the top seed.
Josh: Although Brian Lewerke has plenty of play-making ability and athleticism, what does he need to improve the most to lead MSU in the ‘18 campaign?
McLain: As you know, I’m a big Brian Lewerke guy. When others were uncertain of the talent, leadership and impact he would eventually bring to the table, I was the exact opposite. He can do it all and he’s shown it on the field last season. He’s able to move in the pocket, sense pressure, avoid sacks and make a play for his team by any means necessary.
I think we’d all like to see him improve his deep ball accuracy this season, but thankfully Felton Davis (his favorite target and the Spartans top wide out) is back for his senior season and will look to once again be the go-to guy in high pressure situations.
Josh: How is the Spartan D shaping up? Are they back to dominance or still in a rebuilding phase as they were two seasons ago, and somewhat last year?
McLain: Last season the Spartans finished seventh in the nation for total defense (right behind Michigan who finished third) so I wouldn’t call it a rebuilding phase any longer. Is it possible they drop off a little in terms of finishing in the top 10 for defense? Yes, but I expect to see more of the same from guys like Joe Bachie, Justin Layne, the Dowell brothers and Khari Willis, who all proved to be dominant forces on the football field.
Josh: Do you see the division title potentially coming down to — or at least having a big impact — on the outcome of the UM/MSU game?
McLain: I don’t see the division title coming down to the MSU-UM game simply because I have neither team winning the East. However, I do see it keeping one of these two teams in contention for the title itself. Both teams have tough non-conference schedules to start off with, especially Michigan (week one under the lights against Notre Dame) so should either team lose early this game becomes a must win.
The Spartans can’t sleep on Arizona State either (their week two opponent). Last season the Sun Devils upset the No. 24 Oregon Ducks, Stanford and No. 5 Washington.
Josh: Predict for us the Big Ten East final standings.
McLain: In order I have the division finishing Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan, Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers
Josh: Who do you see making the college football playoff?
McLain: There’s nothing too sexy about my picks but I’ll go with Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and Clemson.
As always, I would like to thank McLain for allowing me to interview him and for providing the insight he does!
Head on over to TheOnlyColors.com for all things Michigan State, you know, if you are into that kinda thing.