I contend that Michigan State not only can win today’s Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis, but the Spartans need to win to
prevent a nasty national championship game that bores us to tears. The Buckeyes (12-0) are good but do not belong on the same field with Florida State, Auburn or Alabama..
The Buckeyes are ranked second in the BCS standings and if the season ended now would play Florida State in the BCS title game. The Big
Ten Conference dreams of putting one of its own in the title game but the Spartans (11-1) can save the conference the embarrassment.
The Buckeyes struggled with more than half the Big Ten in a down year. How are they to compete with the nation’s elite?
William Gholston of Detroit played defensive end for MSU three seasons before leaving for the NFL draft following his junior season. He is now a rookie defensive end with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he believes I will get my wish simply if the Spartans follow their game plan.
“Of course,” he said.
Ohio State and many of the other teams put up gaudy numbers which draws attention. The Spartans simply shut folks down and punch
them in the mouth. That is why Gholston gives MSU more than a punchers chance to win.
MSU has a marginal offense but the defense is the best in the nation. MSU ranks first in total defense (237.7 yards per game given up)
and rushing defense (64.8 yards per game) and rank fourth in scoring defense (11.8 points per game) and fifth in turnover margin (+1.3)
“They got explosive guys on Ohio State’s team,” he said. “They got a quality defense so it is going to be a great game. But just as long
as they follow the game play – and I don’t know what the game plan is. But whatever the game plan is that they (coaches) devise and the players follow it then they should not have much to worry about.”
Gholston is picking his team which is predictable. He warned people when he was a Spartan that this team was capable of big things.
What we didn’t know is that the defense would get even better without him. MSU has flooded the field with a bunch of studs on defense and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi is rightfully a finalist for the NCAA’s top assistant coach. Gholston wasn’t surprised that MSU’s defense improved without him.
“I would be surprised if it didn’t,” he said.
So what is the secret?
Gholston said many of the players on defense come in with chips on their shoulders because most are not four or five star recruits. But
they are good athletes that coach Mark Dantonio and Narduzzi turn into a single heat-seeking unit.
“It is an individual thing in that everybody makes their plays,” Gholston said. “But the way our defense is set up is for every single
player to make a play. “
Defensive end Shilique Calhoun is the Big Ten’s best defensive lineman and was MSU’s leading scorer early in the preseason.
Linebacker Max Bullough comes from a long family of Spartans and is the ultimate team guy. The Lions could use cornerback Darqueze Dennard because he is physical and squares up on wide receivers and can take them out of the game.
Gholston insists it is not about the individuals. It is about 11 players following a motto of being men of character and supporting
“It’s about the quality of your character,” Gholston said. “If you are willing to be coached up and not come in with a big head
saying “I am going to make every single play” and you work as brothers then that is kind of how our unit works.
“ Coach Dantonio always preaches to be a man of your word and be a man of high character and it will show on the football field. I can’t really tell you how it works but it really does.”