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MSU is nation’s biggest flop, experts say

The Detroit News, The Detroit News
Mark Dantonio

Six Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports college football experts were asked this question: Which team has been the most surprising flop this season – Michigan State, Notre Dame or Oregon?

Four of the experts picked the 2-5 Spartans, who are 23.5-point underdogs in a home game against No. 2 Michigan this Saturday.

Here are portions of what they had to say:

Pete Thamel, Sports Illustrated: “The Spartans had been so reliable filling holes over the years that it was hard to imagine they'd flop like this. The most perplexing result amid their five-game losing streak came against Northwestern. Losing to the Wildcats is acceptable, but giving up 54 points at home to a team that scored seven points against Illinois State was astonishing.”

Stewart Mandel, Fox Sports: “First of all, I'd like to give myself a little pat on the back for predicting Notre Dame, Michigan State and Oregon to flop, but even I thought that would look more like 7–5 or 8–4, not 4–8. I could see the Ducks’ and, to a lesser extent, the Irish’s defensive struggles coming, but the Spartans’ are far more surprising. Opponents are scoring nearly 30 points per game on them, up from 21.7 in 2015. Throw in a mess at quarterback and an underperforming rushing attack and Michigan State, the defending Big Ten champ, is one of two winless teams in conference play. The other is Rutgers. Stunning.”

Brian Hamilton, Sports Illustrated: “Not having an adequate quarterback replacement for Connor Cook has been a significant failure. But even more unbelievably, a defense with ample returning talent ranks 74th nationally in the Football Outsiders S&P+ ratings, sandwiched between Ohio and Rutgers. A quarterback hiccup can happen. A defensive implosion never should, not at Michigan State.”

Joan Niesen, Sports Illustrated: “This Spartans team will be lucky to eke out five wins (looking at their remaining schedule, I realistically see four), which will mean it'll have gone from a playoff team in 2015 to missing a bowl in 2016, certainly the biggest year-over-year flop of any team in football.”