Column: MSU is right where it wants to be, riding the wave of anonymity
Nationwide, two wins over a pair of Mid-American Conference schools doesn’t mean a damn. And for good reason.
The Spartans did what they were supposed to do. They beat up inferior opponents, and in the process, inspired some hope in a wanting fan base.
But after embarrassing themselves constantly last season, that’s undoubtedly an improvement. MSU fans won’t forget anytime soon what a struggle it was to beat Furman or Illinois. So by doing even the bare minimum, the Spartans certainly took a step forward.
Except it comes with one caveat — the rest of the nation doesn’t care.
Or at least, the pundits won’t notice. MSU isn’t anywhere close to the national spotlight. Division rivals in Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan will dominate the headlines, as they should. They’ve earned that honor with their play.
And that’s exactly where the Spartans should be, an unknown, an uncertainty in a strong Big Ten East.
But more importantly, that’s where they should want to be.
It’s a running joke surrounding the program and its fans, MSU has always excelled with the chip-on-the-shoulder mentality, it’s genuinely uncanny. But there’s so much truth to it.
The world and its mom could doubt the Spartans, but Dantonio has the proven track record to show that hey, maybe he’ll pull another win out of nowhere. And yup, shocking the nation in the process.
MSU is just two years removed from a Big Ten title in 2015, a run to dominance that featured a number of breathtaking victories.
The disrespect train was full-on riding through East Lansing with no end in sight. While that ride came to a screeching halt last year, MSU should add some more fuel to the fire and simply embrace it.
And if there’s anything Dantonio’s track record proves — it’s that the disrespect is real. He doesn’t just believe it, he’s embraced it.
The longer MSU is in the shadows, the longer it’s slept on.
That's a beautiful place to be.
Hilariously, the Spartans out of the national picture is probably best for the announcers. That way they don’t confuse Dantonio with NBA coach Mike D’Antoni for the zillionth time.
And who knows, the Spartans may very well be a good team this year, sniffing the Top 25 somewhere along the way. I know it’s too early for that, but the talent level is there.
MSU looked like a fun team Saturday against Western Michigan, one the fans can rally around. Oh yeah, the growing pains will still be there, but that’s known.
The best part, though? That was a damn good win, regardless of the opponent.
The defense still hasn’t given up a touchdown. Offenses early in the season can look shaky — just ask the Wolverines — but even that side of the ball showed flashes of potential.
But hey, let’s consider how good the Broncos are. That’s where MSU fans can take glimmers of hope and apply them to reality.
Western Michigan turned heads last week, garnering way more attention than MSU has. The Broncos gave everything Southern California could handle before the Trojans pulled away right at the end.
Transitive property in college football is fool’s gold, but USC proved it was a good team after blowing out a ranked Stanford Cardinal team Saturday.
So what does that mean for MSU? Well, nobody knows.
Not yet, at least. The season’s young. Western Michigan might be good and MSU great. Or the Broncos simply played one incredible game before sinking back into MAC mediocrity.
What we do know is who the Spartans play next. Their next chance to make an impression in front of a national audience is long-time rival Notre Dame following the bye week.
It’ll be the first time in a long time MSU will be judged by the thousands watching at home. How the Spartans respond, that’s up in the air.
But honestly, I'll be damned if Dantonio doesn't ride the disrespect train all the way through. He's mastered it like an art, and that's what has made MSU so dangerous in the past.