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Thursday, January 2, 2014


Michigan State football has answered two of the three bells hung out by our prophet, ATownAndDown, in articles he wrote for this web site in December. ATown marked the B1G Championship game and the Rose Bowl as "must-wins" if national perceptions about the Spartans were going to change for the positive moving forward.

In his first article, part of the "Front-Burner" series on this web site, ATown previewed the Ohio STATE game with this key note:
"MSU wants to have a perennial seat at the table. MSU fans gripe about how other teams and conferences get more respect and national love than the Spartans who are "just as good if not better" than those guys. Well boys and girls, here we are. We have beaten a path to the table. You want a seat... win.
"These next two games (and you might even include the Oregon game next year in here too) are crucial to changing the national perception of MSU football. We have seen years where teams put together cute seasons but when they get their seat at the table they can't back up why they deserve to keep it. That is where MSU is standing right now. If MSU wins 2 of those 3 games (B1G Champ, bowl, and Oregon 2014), people will start to be convinced. Win all and people will believe."
The Spartans accomplished that mission, but were still rated as underdogs to Stanford when the match was set, only to see the point-spread expand in the Cardinal direction as the game drew closer. ATown repeated his siren call a week before game-day, with detailed commentary such as this:
"Spartan fans need to stop settling for being just being better than mediocre. How can we as a fan base ask everyone else to change their perception of the Spartan Football Program if we can’t even change our own?
"If you want the rest of the college football world to give you the benefit of the doubt or to get selected to the more respected bowl, you have to win.  And then go out and win again. And again.
"The win over OSU is going to mean a lot less if we go and get our heads kicked in by Stanford. Suddenly that national perception is knocked back to the Stone Age. If we beat Stanford we will have some success in the postseason too.  And we are satisfied with that? 
"Being content with just making it to the Rose Bowl and not following up this season with another solid year isn’t going to be enough. I want the term “magical season” to morph into “that is MSU doing what MSU does.”
"So here we are with a seat at the table. Let’s make some noise instead of just enjoying being here."
The Spartans accomplished that mission as well, and now that those two milestone victories are in the books, the national perception is apparently beginning to show signs of progress. Consider these comments, appearing in various articles in the 24 hours after the Rose Bowl:

From Gillian Van Stratt of MLive:
"It's as if the world we once knew has been flipped on its head. When Michigan State stopped Stanford on fourth-and-one Wednesday night to win the 100th Rose Bowl, perceptions and realities -- they all changed. From coast to coast the narrative was that Michigan State football is for real, is elite and is no longer 'little' anything."
From Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press:
"And as the western sun set behind a glorious mountain range on this New Year’s evening so too did every last old perception of the Spartans being somebody’s weaker sibling or being incapable of shining when the national lights burn brightest. The Spartans aren’t in anybody’s shadow any longer. They’ve now formally lost usage of the lack-of-respect card. Not after winning 13 games — something Michigan’s never done. Not after beating two top-five ranked teams in their last two games. Not after finishing perhaps as high as No. 3 in the final national rankings.
From Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated:
"There are games that flip opinions, alter reputations and change the world order. Forget the "same-old Spartans" meme or the "Little Brother" label that former Michigan tailback Mike Hart famously bestowed upon Michigan State. The victory further cemented the Spartans' status as the Big Ten's best team, a designation Michigan State earned by pushing undefeated Ohio State around in the conference title game on Dec. 7. As the locker room dance party spread from Pasadena to East Lansing, Michigan State fans everywhere basked in the victory. Cue the music, as this new era in Spartans football already has a soundtrack."
From Adam Rittenberg of ESPN:
"It happened for Michigan State early Wednesday night at the most historic setting in college football. MSU's 24-20 win against Stanford in the 100th edition of the Rose Bowl Game marked a final step, a ceiling shattered and a confirmation that the Spartans indeed belonged. The Spartans are assured of their first top-five finish since 1966. The playoff era dawns next fall, and MSU suddenly can target the Final Four not only in basketball. The Spartans found the inches and broke through ceiling. They've reached the next floor. They don't plan on leaving."

From Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press:
"We hadn’t watched them on this national stage, we hadn’t watched them compete to change our perception, compete to change people’s minds, compete for so much more than a victory in the 100th Rose Bowl. Until now. Until Wednesday."
From Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News:
"This was new territory in many ways. When dreams become real, they’re not dreams anymore. The Spartans traveled a long way for confirmation and completion, and in the most fitting way possible, that’s exactly what they got."
Everything seems to be playing out almost like a script that was written by ATown. We know he didn't actually write the script, but he observed a core element to the potential held by a strong finish to the season, and we are now all in position to reap the benefits from the MSU success. Chances are strong that Michigan State will be a pre-season Top Ten team next fall, perhaps as high as Top Five. Without a large post-season tournament to determine the national champion, starting position will remain a key ingredient to making the Football Final Four.

While we await the third bell in the
ATown game-triad, we can finally relish
an off-season during which nobody will be
surprised or aghast if Mark Dantonio
asks another reporter, "Where's the threat?"

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  1. And we enter a new era where "Same Old Spartans" has a desireable meaning and we look forward to more of these "Same Old Spartans" dancing their victory dance over and over again.

    Where is the threat?

    Spartan Stadium on Macklin Field
    325 West Shaw Lane
    East Lansing, MI 48824

    Latitude: 42.728168
    Longitude: -84.484845

    Next question.

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  2. And thank you Boomer Sooners! A strong chance to finish #2 in the final polls. Hasn't happened since the Rose Bowl win over UCLA in 1966.

    Final AP poll[edit]The AP Poll only ranked 10 teams between 1962-1967.

    Ranking Team
    1 Notre Dame
    2 Michigan State
    3 Alabama
    4 Georgia
    5 UCLA
    6 Nebraska
    7 Purdue
    8 Georgia Tech
    9 Miami (FL)
    10 SMU


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