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          ***** NCAA Football Preview - Michigan State Spartans *****
 
 By Mike Castiglione, Associate College Football Editor
 
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
 
 2012 SEASON IN REVIEW: Coming off a Legends Division title the previous
 season, the Spartans went on to earn a school-record sixth straight bowl
 invite in 2012 with a 7-6 finish. Five of those losses came by four points or
 less, including two in the final seconds and one in double-overtime.
 
 "2012 was the year of the inches that we didn't come up with," head coach Mark
 Dantonio said at Big Ten Media Day. We sort of feel like our football team has
 a little bit of an edge to (it) right now."
 
 Michigan State did manage to win five of its six true road games, with a 12-10
 loss at rival Michigan on Oct. 20 the lone exception. The Spartans also
 finished out the season on a positive note, topping TCU in the Buffalo Wild
 Wings Bowl, 17-16.
 
 2013 ANALYSIS:
 
 OFFENSE: Last year, the Michigan State offense leaned heavily on all-
 conference running back Le'Veon Bell, who was drafted in the second round of
 this past April's NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Redshirt freshman
 Riley Bullough (6-2, 230), a converted linebacker, tops the 2013 preseason
 depth chart. Also splitting first-team reps in camp has been junior Nick Hill
 (5-8, 198), the "lightning" to Bullough's "thunder."
 
 After sitting behind quarterback Kirk Cousins in 2010 and 2011, Andrew Maxwell
 stepped into a starting role last season as a junior. However, he completed
 only 52.5 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions, as
 MSU finished the year ranked 108th in scoring offense (20.0 ppg). Sophomore
 Connor Cook emerged in the spring, but Dantonio put to rest any speculation of
 a quarterback controversy during his media day comments.
 
 "Right now Andrew is our number one quarterback," Dantonio said. "He's got a
 great deal of experience and a lot of confidence right now. With that said,
 Connor Cook has played as everybody knows, and I think that's a big positive
 for us."
 
 While Maxwell figures to have the reins loosened a bit in his second year,
 finding a way to improve upon a woeful 44-percent red zone percentage is
 paramount if the team hopes to put some more points on the board.
 
 Five offensive lineman with starting experience return, as do top wideouts
 Keith Mumphery (42 receptions, 515 yards, TD) and Bennie Fowler (41 rec, 524
 yds, 4 TDs).
 
 DEFENSE: Seven starters return to a defensive unit that ranked fourth in the
 nation in total defense (274.4 ypg) and ninth in scoring (16.3 ppg allowed).
 The defense was particularly dominant coming out of halftime, as it allowed a
 total of only 27 third-quarter points in 13 games. The coaching staff foresees
 more good things to come in 2013.
 
 "We have competition on this football team," Dantonio said. "We've got a lot
 of guys back with experience, too many to talk about, really. The defensive
 side of the ball is loaded with seven starts, back with a lot of players ready
 to make their mark."
 
 Senior Max Bullough enters his third season as the team's starting middle
 linebacker after racking up a team-high 111 tackles (12.5 TFL) last year.
 He'll be flanked on the outside by Denicos Allen (79 tackles, 10.0 TFL) and
 either Taiwan Jones (6-3, 250) or the ultra-athletic Jairus Jones (6-1, 213).
 
 Also back in the fold are starting safeties Isaiah Lewis (80 tackles, 2 INT, 6
 PBU) and Kurtis Drummond (53 tackles, 2 INT, 4 INT).
 
 Up front, replacing all-conference defensive end William Gholston will be no
 easy task, but junior Marcus Rush has started every game so far of his college
 career and is coming off a promising season (7.5 TFL).
 
 SPECIAL TEAMS: The Spartans are breaking in a new kicker in redshirt freshman
 Kevin Cronin. Three-year starter Dan Conroy has moved on after a rather shaky
 season that saw him convert 23-of-32 field goals (71.9 percent) in 2012. At
 punter, Mike Sadler returns after averaging a healthy 43.3 yards on 79 punts.
 Sadler had a long of 70 yards and pinned a whopping 31 kicks inside the
 opponent's 20.
 
 OUTLOOK: Ultimately, the Spartans must find a way to close out some of those
 tight games they wound up losing last season if they hope to contend for a
 Legends Division crown after a 3-5 finish in conference play. Coach Dantonio
 does not see any reason that cannot happen. In fact, he said this year's
 mantra for his team is "Chase it."
 
 "It will always be our hope to chase the dream and go to the Rose Bowl, to
 become a champion at the highest level, to get into the championship format,"
 he said. "And while we were close last year, we lost some games to some great
 football teams by very narrow margins."
 
 No Bell in the backfield means this is now Maxwell's team, at least on the
 offensive side of the ball. Maxwell has weapons around him, but is there
 enough balance? The defense, if healthy, figures to once again be among the
 nation's best with Bullough leading the charge.
 
 
 
 
 08/20 10:49:51 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
UCONN
Final
CLE 98
ATL 127
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
DET 106
DAL 117
Final
BOS 109
ORL 92
Final
MIA 87
UTA 105
Final
TOR 105
BRK 89
Final
SAN 116
MEM 117
Final
POR 104
MIL 97
Final
DEN 111
HOU 115
Final
LAC 102
IND 100
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
NYK
8:30pm Tonight
HOU
NOP
10:00pm Tonight
SAC
MIL
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
OKC
Final
UNT 78
LANG 65
 
Final
Terriers 64
DELST 72
 
Final
MSST 55
ARKST 69
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
GMAS 99
CATAWBA 69
 
Final
WOFF 64
CSOU 58
 
Final
HIGH 106
FERR 48
 
Final
JVU 68
GWEBB 65
 
Final
ILL 73
HAMP 55
 
Final
BST 52
JMU 72
 
Final
YOUNG 84
KNST 90
 
Final
UMO 71
LONG 60
 
Final
PITT 65
MAN 56
Final
OSU 97
NCAT 55
Final
FSU 93
UNF 77
 
Final
TOL 83
RMU 57
 
Final
CAMP 70
SIUE 65
 
Final
DUQ 52
RFLSH 67
 
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
Final
UCF 75
DET 70
Final
UNCW 73
LIB 70
 
Final
LOYC 83
ABCHRIST 44
 
Final
MURST 94
ALCOR 56
 
Final
HOU 56
ARKPB 61
 
Final
NW 67
CMICH 80
Final
WKENT 75
CHIST 60
 
Final
ODU 58
UGST 54
Final
SMU 67
ILLCH 46
Final
LALAF 115
MLGN 76
 
Final
TULSA 74
MIZST 70
Final
UWGB 66
MORE 50
 
Final
NEOM 92
NCOL 82
 
Final
TTU 101
SCST 39
 
Final
DEN 83
TAMCC 73
 
Final
STEPH 66
TXST 60
 
Final
STLU 75
TXPA 69
 
Final
MEM 83
USCU 73
 
Final
ILLST 64
TENNM 54
 
Final
MSU 66
EMICH 46
Final
GRCN 80
INCWORD 82
 
Final
STAN 67
LMU 58
Final
BAY 66
NMST 55
 
Final
CIN 71
SDST 62
Final
AUB 80
WINT 62
 
Final
NMU 76
CARK 55
 
Final
PEPP 53
HOW 45
 
Final
CPSL 60
NE 58
 
Final
UNLV 75
PORT 73
Final
OREG 79
CSNO 56
Final
WASH 86
GRAM 38
12:30pm Today
RICE
STTHOMASTX
 
7:00pm Tonight
UVA
CLST
7:00pm Tonight
LIU
FIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
STET
GSOUT
 
7:00pm Tonight
QUIN
LEH
 
7:00pm Tonight
SFLA
SHU
7:00pm Tonight
RICH
SALA
7:00pm Tonight
CAN
USB
 
7:00pm Tonight
DEL
TEMPL
7:00pm Tonight
WCU
WRST
 
7:00pm Tonight
VERM
YALE
 
7:30pm Tonight
SDKST
IDST
 
7:30pm Tonight
RIDE
MRGST
 
7:30pm Tonight
LATU
NICST
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHAR
APP
8:00pm Tonight
MISS
CCAR
 
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
UCONN
8:00pm Tonight
BRAD
EUREK
 
8:00pm Tonight
PEAY
OAKC
 
8:00pm Tonight
JST
SMISS
 
8:30pm Tonight
SD
MNTST
 
9:00pm Tonight
UAB
LSU
9:05pm Tonight
EVAN
OHIO
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSFU
CSDH
 
10:00pm Tonight
ORST
DEP
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
NEV
10:00pm Tonight
USF
PORST
 
10:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
WALLA
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
CALST
 
Final
NJD 0
OTT 2
Final
MIN 2
BOS 3
Final
VAN 0
DAL 2
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
FLA
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
TOR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
WAS
 
7:30pm Tonight
MON
ANA
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
EDM
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
STL
 
8:25pm Tonight
JAC
TEN