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Midseason review: Michigan State

10/20/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan State Spartans

Record: 4-3 (3-1 Big Ten)

It feels like Michigan State has already had two seasons crammed into the first seven games. The Spartans stumbled out of the gate, dropping three of their first four games. A supposedly strong secondary crumbled against Central Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin, and a sky-is-falling attitude developed among Spartans fans who had seen it all before. But the players have since showed they're not the same old Spartans, recording an emotional win against archrival Michigan and following it up with two more victories. Michigan State can throw its hat in the Big Ten title ring by knocking off No. 6 Iowa on Saturday night (Big Ten Network, 7 p.m. ET). Junior linebacker Greg Jones, the Big Ten's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, has been fabulous with a nation-high 85 tackles. Both the secondary and the line have made progress, and sophomore Kirk Cousins has emerged as the answer at quarterback.

Offensive MVP, WR Blair White: The former walk-on easily could be in dental school right now, but he capitalized on playing-time opportunities last year and figured he'd stick around for another go-round. Michigan State is extremely grateful, as White ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring (5.1 ppg), fourth in receiving yards (90.7 ypg) and fifth in receptions (6.4 rpg). Honorable mentions go to Cousins and true freshman running back Larry Caper.

Defensive MVP, LB Greg Jones: An obvious choice here, as Jones leads the nation with 85 tackles and continues to make big plays with five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. The junior has recorded 37 more tackles than any of his teammates. Honorable mentions go to linebacker Eric Gordon and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.