Michigan State Football: Five most important games in 2015

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Dec 5, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; The Oregon Ducks players run onto the field prior to their Pac-12 Championship game against the Arizona Wildcats at Levi

Michigan State vs Oregon, September 12th

The Spartans will be playing host in the second leg of this home-and-home series against the seventh ranked Oregon Ducks. A season ago they fell 46-27 to the Ducks in Eugene, Oregon, despite putting up a fierce first half battle. Quarterback Marcus Mariota (who happened to win last year’s Heisman Trophy) and the fearsome Oregon offense proved to be too much in that game, however, and went on a 28-0 surge to close it out after trailing 27-18 in the third quarter.

Oregon will have some question marks going into the 2015 season, questions they didn’t have to deal with in Mariota’s tenure. With Mariota now in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans, there is no clear heir apparent thus far at the quarterback position, with both junior Jeff Lockie and senior transfer Vernon Adams battling it out for the job. According to Oregon Live, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich is even considering starting the season with a two quarterback rotation.

By the second weekend of the season, the Ducks quarterback situation may very well have resolved itself, but for the time being it is shrouded in mystery. Under Mariota, the high-flying Ducks offense ranked fourth in scoring in the nation last year, scoring 45.4 points per game, and will be returning both leading receiver Byron Marshall and leading rusher Royce Freeman, so whoever takes the reigns at quarterback will be inheriting an experienced offensive core.

This will be a fine early season test to see just how good the Spartans stack up against elite competition on both sides of the ball. In this game a year ago, Spartan quarterback Connor Cook went toe-to-toe with Mariota, and looks to be putting together a Heisman campaign of his own this season.

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