Yeah, it's been a big step down this season for a variety of reasons. MSU's star linebacker, Ed Davis, blew his knee in camp and was lost for the season. That has been followed with the loss of the team's top cornerback (Vayante Copeland, fractured vertebra) and top safety (RJ Williamson, biceps surgery), and starting cornerback Darian Hicks will probably be on the field Saturday for the first time since he got a concussion Oct. 10 at Rutgers. All that said, the supposedly dominant MSU defensive line has not always lived up to its billing. It makes plays but also crucial mistakes. The linebackers have been pretty good. The secondary has been a mess. MSU started three true freshmen, all of whom were supposed to redshirt this season, at Nebraska. There are obvious excuses for the pass defense, but not for a run defense that has sunk to average. The main strength would still be up front, defensive end Shilique Calhoun is having a great year and defensive tackle Malik McDowell makes big plays.