CHICAGO -- Despite a Big Ten championship and a trip to the College Football Playoff, Michigan State is picked just third in the conference's East Division heading into the 2016 season. It's another season of being an underdog for the program that perpetually has a chip on its shoulder.
"Nothing new," senior linebacker Riley Bullough said Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. "I feel like at this point it's just part of our identity as a team. We're just looked at as underdogs. All you can do is go out and show what kind of team you are and I think we're gonna be a great one."
"It's a position we've been in before," senior tight end Josiah Price said. "We've been told that before and we've come out and won it, so we're excited for an opportunity to prove people wrong again."
"We're confident," senior wide receiver R.J. Shelton said. "Obviously every year it doesn't matter who it is that's with us, that we can do what we did in 2013, what we did last year. So either way you can say Michigan State's picked to win it or not picked to win it, you know, we know what we can do."
The team is also dealing with the tragic loss of Mike Sadler, who died in a car crash over the weekend. Sadler was an All-American punter for the Spartans and a beloved teammate.
"Mike was not only a brother and family member, a friend, a mentor, someone I looked up to, wanted to be like," Price said. "Us as teammates and people who knew him closely are gonna try to take a part of him and carry that legacy on forever and honor him through our play and through our actions and through our lives."
"Knowing Mike, he'd want us to move forward," head coach Mark Dantonio said. "He'd want us to laugh again and honor him by doing what we do."
A public celebration of life for Sadler is scheduled for Sunday, July 31 at Spartan Stadium.
Michigan State opens the 2016 season on Friday, September 2 against Furman in East Lansing.