Column: Halfway done, MSU enters crucial stretch of its season
For all the positives MSU has garnered this year, the hope, the good vibes, the bounceback from 3-9, it comes one caveat — the Spartans haven’t really accomplished anything.
The win over Michigan was undoubtedly incredible; an upset victory that symbolized head coach Mark Dantonio’s claim to state supremacy. The Wolverines are a talented team, and by year’s end, the W will look prettier than ever.
But still, the Spartans have loftier goals than that, one game won’t come close to defining their season. They have eyes on the Big Ten Championship. And well, beyond.
It’s no fault of their own, mind you, that they have no significant track record to point at. No team in college football has yet to really accomplish anything this year. There have been only so many games played thus far, and MSU’s true colors have yet to show their roots.
So as the Indiana Hoosiers come into town, the latter half of the season kicks off.
And as the going gets tough, mostly, shit starts to get real. Dantonio has talked time and time again about the different phases to a season. It’s why historically, there’s so much emphasis on November in a college football campaign.
Early season games hold magnitude, there’s no doubting that. Slip and find yourself with two losses, those grand goals will be all but gone. Stumbling is not an option, which makes every game hold weight.
But legends are immortalized down the stretch of the season, when the stakes are at its highest. Whilst legends become household names, losing programs slowly fade into irrelevancy, their fan bases clamoring and murmuring to themselves, “next year.”
Surprisingly or not, the Spartans have all their goals ahead of them. They control their destiny in the Big Ten East division. Continue winning and the nation won’t hesitate to rank them higher in the polls.
Losing isn’t the end of the world, this youthful team could learn a thing or two from suffering heartbreaking defeats. But there’s no fun in that, and as we know, these Spartans are all about that.
So buckle up, MSU fans. This rest of the season — no matter what happens — should be an entertaining one. The Spartans have proven that much about themselves.
Of the six remaining games, two will define MSU’s season, to see if this team can hang out with the big men on the block. Penn State and Ohio State should give fans a better look to see where this team stands amongst the best of the Big Ten.
The other four games — those will test the Spartans in different ways. They’re all winnable, and if all goes right and MSU doesn’t stumble and fumble under the pressure, that shows just how resilient this program is.
In other words, it's easy for a team like the Spartan to shoot themselves in the foot and make mistakes. Limit those, or at least, win the games, then the pieces are there for one hell of a six game stretch.
College football teams are inherently young, it’s the beauty of the sport. So even by those relative standards, the Spartans are that much more inexperienced.
So if MSU, despite all the odds stacked up against it, comes out and reaches a double-digit win total, then memories of 3-9 can fade into obscurity.
A lot will be learned these last six games for MSU. All things considered, it’s been a strong start to a supposed rebuilding year for Dantonio’s squad.
And if the Spartans can duplicate their effort and make it to a prestigious bowl game — or once again, beyond — the future should shine brighter than the lights at Spartan Stadium.