No. 13 Michigan State is not the flashiest team of the top 25-ranked schools around the country. You won’t find many analysts predicting the Spartans to play in the BCS title game outright at this point.
Hell, Michigan State’s match up this Friday night against No. 24 Boise State isn’t even the marquee game of college football’s opening weekend. Not by a long shot. That honor belongs to defending national champion No. 2 Alabama taking on the resurgent No. 8 Michigan Wolverines down at the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
Yet, despite all of this, a sensation is growing in East Lansing. One that could quickly swell into a fever pitch if Michigan State topples Boise St under the lights of Spartan Stadium.
With both teams being ranked for their season-openers, the Spartans have the opportunity to do something they have not been able to do in quite some time: Take down a ranked opponent to start the year and get the BCS crowd taking notice sooner than anticipated.
Of course, all of this will be happening in the shadows of the Alabama vs. Michigan game. Come Monday, ESPN and other college football media outlets will be discussing the “Cowboy Classic” and the outcome of the MSU versus Boise State match up will likely fall to the back page.
But, as Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has said plenty of times, he likes his team to be the underdog; He wants his players to embrace that role. And so over the past few weeks, the Spartans have become something of a national dark-horse when it comes to being considered a National Championship contender.
Since its inception, the BCS has seen one-forth of the teams that have played for the national title come from those ranked outside of the preseason top 10. With 28 different teams having played in the BCS National Championship Game overall, three-fourths of those teams had double-digit wins in the previous year and at least 8.5 wins among their last four seasons. Of all the teams ranked this preseason from No. 11 to No. 25, eight fit this model, and two of them happen to be none other than the Michigan State Spartans and Boise State Broncos.
A lot is at stake during this season-opening night game for Mark Dantonio and his Spartans. A chance to start the year with a bang and cement their “dark-horse” title, or, a loss and inevitable drop in the rankings with no clear end in sight. Anything can happen. Welcome to NCAA football.
You can follow MSU Examiner, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.