COMMENTARY| It hasn't been done since the 1960s, but the Michigan State Spartans could win a national championship in 2013, according to Dave Miller of the National Football Post.
Miller lists the Spartans, along with Georgia, South Carolina, Clemson and Virginia Tech as five "darkhorse" programs that could find their way to the BCS National Championship Game, and win it if they "catch a few breaks."
Miller feels that the Spartans' defense is one of their strongest points, which I couldn't agree with more. Michigan State has an up-and-coming secondary to complement strong linebackers like Max Bullough and Denicos Allen. And, of course, the Spartans have one of the best running backs in the country in junior-to-be, Le'Veon Bell.
Miller, however, questions the Spartans' offense, particularly the quarterback position. Like many Spartans followers, he wonders how Michigan State will fare with Andrew Maxwell under-center instead of Kirk Cousins, arguably the greatest quarterback in program history. Maxwell, though, has a world potential. He's coming off a knee injury sustained prior to the Michigan State Spring Game, but should be 100 percent this summer, according to reports.
I agree with Miller's statement regarding the season-opener against Boise State. While cupcakes have fallen victim to Michigan State in the past, 2012 will be ushered in by playing one of the most potent offenses in the nation. If Michigan State can hold its own against the Broncos, good things will surely be on the horizon. I like the season-opener against the Smurf-Turfers. It'll be a true test, and an early one at that. Miller also mentions treacherous hurdles in the way: Back-to-back road games at Michigan and Wisconsin, two of Michigan State's biggest rivals in the Big Ten. If the Spartans come out victorious in those two games, there is no reason not to think they'll be BCS-bound.
Due to the recent thrilling nature of the series, I view the Wisconsin game with more concern than the Michigan game. The duel with the Wolverines will be important, sure. Michigan State could win its fifth straight over its in-state foe. However, the Badgers have been pesky and cost Michigan State a trip to a BCS Bowl in the 2011 season by way of a classic triumph in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The usual suspects like LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma are favorites to compete for the national title -- and they should be. However, to peg Michigan State as a "darkhorse" might be a little early. The Spartans haven't been to a BCS Bowl under coach Mark Dantonio, who has engineered several memorable victories. But the Spartans are one of the premier teams in the Big Ten, and if pieces fall into place -- the Spartans get hot and the juggernauts stumble -- there is a possibility that they land in the BCS title game. A small chance. And Michigan will likely get the nod if it comes down to choosing one or the other.
My initial thoughts about Miller's column were thoughts of "Wow. Does he really think that?" Michigan State is on its way to becoming a national powerhouse under Dantonio, but I think a realistic shot at a national title could be a few years away. Let's not forget that Nick Saban had a lot of talent at his disposal. He's a great coach in terms of football knowledge, but he couldn't get Michigan State to national-title contention.
Adam Biggers has followed NCAA football for over 20 years, specifically the Michigan State Spartans. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.