Going into the college football season, talk usually hums around quarterbacks. Manziel, Bridgewater, Boyd. One name that wasn’t necessarily in the spot light was Michigan State’s Connor Cook. Does he deserve to be in it now? Maybe, but that’s not what the entire focus should be on in this game.
Take for example that it is the first time my former school, Wisconsin, isn’t in the Rose Bowl in three seasons. Why is this important? Because it’s my school, and I make the rules here. It’s more important because of the exposure factor. Sure, MSU was good all year, but playing in the Big Ten brings some form of anonymity to the table unless you’re clad in scarlet and chrome. Wisconsin having played in the Grandpappy of bowls year after year helps their nationally recognized opponents to prepare for them a little bit better. Michigan State did their best David Copperfield disappearing act this year to fly under the radar. Let’s also not forget that Stanford has played in a BCS caliber bowl the last four years. See a theme in what I’m trying to get at here?
But I carry on… Stanford is a great team in a difficult 2013 conference. Seeing Arizona State play early in the year clad my mind in concrete that the Pac Twelve was going to be tougher than people want to give them credit for. I also have a lasting impression of Michigan State breaking my heart a couple of years ago. But I carry on…
MSU’s defense is one of the best in the country. They proved this handily (see Big 10 championship game). An X-factor may be Max Bullough. Not having one of the best linebackers in college football will hurt, but will not break the Spartans. If it comes down to Cook and the defenders (which sounds like an awful 80’s cover band by the way), I like the Spartans. Trent Murphy and his 14 sacks on the year will be a problem for Cook, and even though the Cardinal are as tough-nosed as they come on the left coast, I still think the Spartans have enough mental and physical toughness to match. As much as I don’t want to do this — I’m taking Michigan State in this one.