Season Report Card: Michigan State Spartans
Just one year after posting seven wins, Michigan State (13-1, 8-0 Big Ten) was able to rebound from its loss to the Irish by reeling off 10 straight victories, ending Ohio State’s 24-game winning streak, taking the conference crown and beating Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Dantonio and Co. quietly went about their business throughout the entire season, only to end the 2013 campaign as the No. 3 team in the country.
Check out Sparty’s final report card after a record-breaking season:
It’s pretty hard to believe there was a “four-horse race” for the quarterback position three days prior to the season opener. Incumbent Andrew Maxwell got the nod, but was ultimately replaced by sophomore Connor Cook just two weeks later. Cook was very efficient and became the key piece to what Michigan State had been missing since the departure of Kirk Cousins, really coming on strong toward the latter half of the season and turning into one of the Big Ten’s best signal-callers. Tailback Jeremy Langford gave the Spartans one of the more balanced offensive attacks in the nation, producing 1,338 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground as an outstanding offensive line gave him plenty of running room.
Widely considered as the best defensive unit in the country—especially after Alabama’s fallout and Florida State’s first-half struggles against Auburn—Michigan State was nothing short of spectacular. It dominated Big Ten competition, gave Braxton Miller hell and limited the Pac-12’s top-ranked team to 20 points on one of the biggest stages of them all. There’s not much you can say about the Spartans’ defense except that it was No. 1.
It took longer than summer camp to find him, but Dantonio finally found the quarterback he needed to take his team to the promised land. Unfortunately there was just one hiccup along the way—and I still think the referees screwed Michigan State out of that win—but 13-of-14 isn’t anything to get down on. The Spartans broke a school record with their 13 wins after being picked to finish third in the Legends Division by the media.
They didn’t get the BCS National Championship bid, but were one or two questionable pass interference calls away from doing so and exceeded expectations by a tremendous margin. Led by a ferocious, NFL-loaded defense, Michigan State blew through the Big Ten and won its first Rose Bowl since 1988.
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