Four days before the start of the 2016 season, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio likes what he sees with his football team. The Spartans return 48 letterwinners and 12 starters. They have 24 players who are either seniors or graduate students.
“It’s a big senior class,” Dantonio said Tuesday, “and so usually when you have your senior class sitting there like that, if they have their best year and it’s large, you’re going to have a great football season.”
Three fifth-year seniors were named captains this week: linebacker Riley Bullough; quarterback Tyler O’Connor; and free safety Demetrious Cox.
The Spartans open the season against Furman, a Football Championship Subdivision program, at 7 p.m. Friday on the Big Ten Network.
“There’s a lot of guys coming back with a lot of positive experience,” Dantonio said. “But that needs to transition now to 2016 season.”
Waiting game: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has not announced publicly who is starting quarterback will be in the season opener at noon Saturday against Hawaii on ESPN.
On the Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday, he said the quarterback knows and the team knows but it is not for public consumption. It will be either John O’Korn and Wilton Speight.
First games: Indiana and Minnesota will be the first Big Ten teams to take the field in 2016 on Thursday
The Hoosiers, who have played their opener on a Thursday four times in the last eight years, play at Florida International at 7:30 p.m. on ESPNU. The Gophers host Oregon State at 9 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.
Best game: Wisconsin has the toughest Week 1 opponent. The Badgers play No. 5 LSU in Green Bay, Wisc., at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
It will be the first major college football game played at Lambeau Field. It’s the Badgers’ first game in Wisconsin, but outside of Madison, since 1905.
Gibson update: Ohio State Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer expects wide receiver Torrance Gibson to return to the program in the spring semester when his one-semester suspension ends.
“This all just kind of happened in the last week, so we’re still dealing with it,” Meyer said Tuesday on the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference. “I’ve had zero indication that he wants to leave. His focus is to be the best Buckeye he can possibly be.”
Gibson’s suspension from the university for an “unspecified violation of the student code of conduct” was announced Monday. Meyer said Monday he disagreed with the suspension but did not elaborate.
The redshirt freshman, who was recruited as a quarterback but moved to wide receiver last season, was expected to be in the mix for playing time.
Depth chart: Ohio State released its first official depth chart Tuesday. Centerville grad Evan Lisle, a redshirt junior, is listed as one of two backups at right offensive tackle. Trotwood-Madison grad Cam Burrows, a redshirt junior safety, is not listed on the depth chart.