Spartans have the right stuff
Published 8:31 am Tuesday, December 8, 2015
INDIANAPOLIS — As I watched the final 27 seconds tick away at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night I could not help but wonder if Michigan State is a team of destiny.
After all, there were several moments this past season that had the Spartans on the brink of falling short of their goal of winning not only the Big Ten Championship, but a national title.
But all those doubts washed away with another gutty performance by Michigan State against an outstanding Iowa team that probably did not get the credit it deserved this season for winning its first 12 games.
The Spartans are the type of team I can really get behind.
Forget the fact that Michigan State offensive line coach is from Dowagiac and I have known Mark Staten and his family for almost my entire career.
The Spartans are a team that I can get behind because they are a blue collar, hard-working and no-nonsense type of football team.
The are tough and physical. They play power football in an era of wide open and fast-paced offenses.
That toughness comes straight from the top.
Mark Dantonio is a no nonsense kind of coach that demands discipline and a strong work ethic. Dantonio comes from a defensive background and expects a toughness from his players that shows both physically and mentally.
Having spent some time around the Spartans this season beginning back in August at the Big Ten Media Days, I have learned that it is a team that is filled with high-character individuals.
I have also learned by spending some time with senior center Jack Allen, it is a team that has some characters.
It is that toughness mixed with a love of the game that makes the Spartans a formidable opponent for Alabama on New Year’s Eve in the national semifinals.
It is also the reason I expect Michigan State to beat the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide and advance to Arizona for the national championship game.
This team never panics and always finds a way to win.
There are plenty of examples of that from the 2015 campaign.
The two that most stick out in my mind are of course Saturday’s 82-yard, 22-play drive that took 9:09 to win the Big Ten Championship, and the blocked punt returned for a touchdown against Michigan.
A lot of teams buckle under that type of pressure and that type of adversity.
These Spartans seem to thrive on it.
So I am convinced that Michigan State is a team of destiny and until the Tide, Clemson Tigers or Oklahoma Sooners prove me wrong, I am sticking with Michigan State to win it all and keep the national championship in the Big Ten.
Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.