Doing a preseason Top 25 was tough.
The top of the rankings was the easy part, but the 22-25 area was very difficult. Alot of teams deserved to be there, but I couldn't overlook Utah and Fresno State, both which I think will have fantastic seasons. But if I had a chance to go one more, it would have been Michigan State.
The Spartans lost six games last year by a margin of 7 points or less. If they can close that gap this year with a more experienced team, I expect them to be one of the better teams in the Big Ten.
With the return of 16 starters, including potential All-American Javon Ringer, along with quarterback Brian Hoyer, the Spartans offense is going to be strong. Also back are four offensive lineman tipping the scales at 300+ pounds. This should help Hoyer improve on last year's 2,725-yard, 20-TD performance last year. He was really coming on at the end of last season, but then struggled in the Champs Sports Bowl with four INTs.
The defense is very experienced and the DL gets some help with Cincinnati transfer Trevor Anderson. The secondary also has three starters back led by Kendell Davis-Clark.
I look at the schedule and see a potential 7-0 or 6-1 start -- at Cal, Eastern Michigan, FAU, Notre Dame, at Indiana, Iowa, at Northwestern -- heading into the game vs. Ohio State. The season closes tough with games at Michigan, Wisconsin, Purdue and at Penn State, but the Spartans just might be looking at an 8 or 9 win season, making them my No. 26 in the preseason.