Power Rankings: No. 12 Michigan State

August, 8, 2012
8/08/12
4:45
PM ET

After recording 11 wins in each of the past two seasons, Michigan State has its sights set on bigger goals. The Spartans aim for their first outright Big Ten championship and their first Rose Bowl appearance since the 1987 season. Although they lose most of their key skill players on offense, including quarterback Kirk Cousins, they return one of the nation's top defenses. Coordinator Pat Narduzzi leads a unit that returns eight starters, including All-America candidates William Gholston and Johnny Adams, and linebacker tandem Max Bullough and Denicos Allen. All eyes will be on junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell as he moves into a leading role, although he'll have help from running back Le'Veon Bell. Michigan State faces a challenging schedule, beginning with an Aug. 31 opener against Boise State.

For more on ESPN.com’s preseason Power Rankings, click here.

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