Michigan State football could end up #2 or #3 in the final college football polls. They were #4 in the BCS before they vanquished #5 Stanford, and with Alabama losing badly in the Sugar Bowl, not to mention a drop coming to the national title game loser and voila. Look at where Mark Dantonio has the Michigan State football program now! Oh, if only for those 5 pass interference calls at Notre Dame Stadium back in September!
Of course, elite teams find a way to win in spite of bad breaks and questionable calls. Michigan State football was not elite on that Saturday in South Bend, not even close. However, the team improved greatly as the season went on. For the first third of the season watching MSU try to complete a forward pass was the most excruciating thing possible. Yet from November on, Michigan State QB Connor Cook was racking up 300 yard passing games.
The offense on the Michigan State football team ameliorated itself greatly, and it moved closer to the defense on the Michigan State football team. In both 1988 and 2014 the Spartans won the Big Ten and the Rose Bowl on the strength of the nation’s #1 defense. So now, after achieving this, the next logical step is national title. Monday night Florida State and Auburn will play in the same stadium for the prize that Michigan State football eyes should be on.
The quarterback, Connor Cook, is back. As is the leading rusher and main cog in the offense Jeremy Langford. Max Bullough is gone, but Kyler Ellsworth stepped right into his spot and won Rose Bowl defensive player of the game. In 2013 Michigan State football was an exciting, elite, fun to watch team. In 2012 they were mediocre and awful on the eyes. The ’12 team may have actually been the least watchable team in all of the nation.
In ’14 it’s time to think the national title, and a top 5 preseason ranking. Ok, so key returnees for next year include Cook, Langford, top future NFL talent DE Shilique Calhoun, DE Marcus Rush, FS Kurtis Drummond, WR/KR MacGarrett Kings Jr, and Tony Lippett. In all, 8 starters return on offense, on defense five starters will return. Obviously they will lose a lot from the nation’s top defense, most notably the human no fly zone Darqueze Dennard. Maybe 2014 won’t be a national championship season for Michigan State football, but the program is certainly moving in that direction now. The trajectory is way up. No Michigan State football team won 12 games in a season until this one; which won 13!
And they’ve won 11+ in three of the last four years. Michigan State football has indeed arrived. Michigan is definitely the little brother now.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and RSS Catch him Tuesdays talking Illini and Northwestern for KOZN 1620 The Zone, Fridays talking Chicago Bulls and Bears for WAOR 95.7 The FanFollow paulmbanks