By: Evan Jankens
This has been such a magical season for the Spartans. I cover their home football games for 97.1 The Ticket and even I didn’t think this season would turn out like it did.
It looks as if Mark Dantonio and his staff have really built a powerhouse in the Big Ten. They’re going into the 2014 season on a high note after winning the Rose Bowl — and now USA Today has Michigan State entering the season as the No. 6 team in the nation.
Here is their reasoning:
Why No. 6? Because the Spartans’ foundation of defensive excellence combined with a punishing offense makes them a threat for the national championship. On offense, quarterback Connor Cook developed into one of the Big Ten’s best in his first year as a starter. Joining Cook is a solid group of returning skill players in the backfield and receiver, though the line loses a trio of senior starters. Even with a number of starters gone on defense, the system in place – as run by coordinator Pat Narduzzi – almost guarantees another elite performance.
It’s been a long road to get here.
Game one I had no idea who would be the starting QB — Would it the senior Andrew Maxwell, maybe Connor Cook who lead the team to victory in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl a few months earlier? Maybe the QB was going to be Tyler O’Conner, heck could it be the true freshman and dual threat QB Damien Terry? No one knew, but we all knew 3 out of the 4 would get a shot to prove themselves. Connor Cook rose to the top and stayed there on the way to a Rose Bowl victory.
The only thing I knew coming into the 2013 season was the fact the Spartan’s defense would be able to keep them in any game and would the offense be able to muster up enough points to get 8 or 9 wins. Never did I imagine the Spartans winning 13 games. Yes, 13 games! I know it still seams unreal.
I have waited for this all of my adult life — the chance to see Michigan State finally living up to the hype and the nation noticing. MSU is no longer just a basketball school, but also one of the best football schools in the Big Ten.
Growing up a Michigan State fan in metro Detroit hasn’t always been the easiest. Every one of my friends is a huge Michigan fan, so imagine the rivalry between us. I grew up a Spartan fan — in my dad’s words “I was raised correctly” — yes, he went to Michigan State. I didn’t go to Michigan State, but they are truly the only team/teams in both football and basketball that really get me worked up, win or lose.
Oh and did I mention that not only does Mark Dantonio hang with a rapper so does Mr. Izzo?
ESPN.com’s writer Mark Schlabach also has Michigan State 6 going into the upcoming season.