Why No. 5 Michigan State Will And Won't Win The National Championship

By Mike Craven/@CravenMike and Emily Van Buskirk/@Emilnem

The Michigan State Spartans are ranked fifth in the NCAA football preseason AP Poll. The Spartans face an early-season bout with Oregon, but the headliner of the schedule is a showdown with Ohio State in late November.

Why Michigan State Won't Win The Title

Michigan State won’t win a national title because the Spartans play in the Big 10. <drops the mic, walks off the TSFJ stage>

But really though, who do they think they are — Ohio State? Let me backtrack a bit. While I don’t believe the Big 10 is strong, that doesn’t mean the Spartans are devoid of tough games in their own B1G backyard. Not only does MSU play the Buckeyes on Urban Meyer turf, but the Spartans also face newly minted Husker head coach Mike Riley at Nebraska and Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan squad in the Big House, all after a sneaky Rutgers road game (it’s a TRAP).

They also play host to Oregon, who may be Marcus Mariota-less but still is bursting at the seam with positional talent.

The departure of Pat Narduzzi and the loss of Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year Kurtis Drummond as well as cornerback Trae Waynes leaves the defense in a weakened state, and a youngish secondary will pose problems for the Spartans.

Yes, I have no argument for Connor Cook; he’s amazing. But the loss of Big Ten Receiver of the Year Tony Lippett and 1,500-yard rusher Jeremy Langford will force Cook to work with some unproven offensive talent. After all, he is only as dangerous as his receivers. —Emily

Why Michigan State Will Win The Title

Michigan State has won 11 games in four out of the last five seasons, and 2015 should become the fifth time in six seasons. Mark Dantonio has built a program capable of beating any team in the nation because of its style of play. The Spartans are an old-school, physical football team. It all starts up front. The Spartans arguably sport the best offensive line and defensive line in the Big 10.

Oh, and Connor Cook is the best quarterback Michigan State has had at the helm in years. The running game is strong, and Michigan State will be able to stop the run. The only real question for Michigan State is in the secondary, and that is Dantonio’s specialty.

The Spartans aren’t as talented as Ohio State, but they get a chance early in the season to build momentum with a game against Oregon. The Ducks will be better at the end of the season than the beginning, so Michigan State catches last year’s Pac-12 champion at the right time.

A win over Oregon early in the season will set up a monster showdown with Ohio State later in the year for the East Division title of the Big 10. The Spartans won’t be favored in that game, but if Michigan State can pull it off, it will earn a spot in the College Football Playoff.

After that, all bets are off. Ohio State proved that last season. —Mike

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