Spartans returnees look to answer Bell

AP Photo/Al Goldis

Andrew Maxwell will be under center for the Spartans once again this season.With the college basketball season in the books, College Football Live embarks on its Spring Bus Tour, visiting eight schools. Today we take a trip to check out the Michigan State Spartans.

2012 Season Recap

Michigan State started strong with a win over No. 24 Boise State, with running back Le’Veon Bell running for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 44 carries and entering the very early Heisman conversation.

After starting 2-0, the Spartans lost six of their next nine games and had to win at Minnesota in the last week of the season to become bowl eligible.

In the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, the Spartans defense held their opponent to 20 points or fewer for the 10th time in 13 games and freshman QB Connor Cook led the team back from a 13-0 deficit in a 17-16 win over TCU.

Key Roster Notes

Bell and tight end Dion Sims are gone and four key defensive contributors will not be back, including DE William Gholston and CB Johnny Adams.

But seven offensive linemen with starting experience will return next season to protect senior QB Andrew Maxwell. His top five receivers from last season will return.

On defense, the Spartans’ top three tacklers and their interception leader -- CB Darqueze Dennard -- will be back.

2013 Outlook

In head coach Mark Dantonio’s first five seasons in East Lansing, Michigan State averaged 29.7 PPG. Last year the Spartans scored just 20.0 PPG, and with inconsistent play from Maxwell there will be competition to determine the starter, with sophomore Cook getting a chance.

They’ll need to replace Bell, who led all of FBS with 382 carries last year and served as the complete focal point for the offense.

A visit to Notre Dame will be the Spartans’ toughest non-conference test, but the rest of the schedule has them avoiding Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State in Big Ten play.