Spartans surprise in SI.com's latest power rankings

Mark Dantonio

Former BTN contributor and current SI.com writer Andy Staples released his post-spring power rankings Tuesday. Most interesting of note, perhaps, is Michigan State’s placement. Staples put the Spartans, who went 7-6 last season and lost star RB Le’Veon Bell and several others, at No. 14. That’s two spots higher than rival Michigan, if you were wondering.

[ SI.com: Alabama, Texas A&M headline post-spring top 25 ]

Staples, it seems, surprised himself with where he placed Mark Dantonio’s team. But, he wrote that a visit to East Lansing and a conversation with a respected assistant brightened his forecast.

Here’s a portion of what Staples wrote about Michigan State:

“Because after visiting with defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and boring into the stats from 2012, it became clear that Michigan State had an elite defense, a terrible offense and a ton of bad luck last season. Since the Spartans bring back most of that defense and the offensive players have had time to mature, another double-digit win campaign — as in 2010 and 2011 — seems far more likely than a repeat of last year’s .500 regular-season record.”

As for the other Big Ten teams in Staples’ power rankings, Ohio State, the nation’s lone team to go undefeated in 2012, is No. 4 and Northwestern lands at No. 22. The aforementioned Wolverines come in at No. 16.

On the topic of Northwestern, Staples spotlighted the Wildcats, along with a few other premier academic institutions, in his intro.

“Meanwhile, Pat Fitzgerald has quietly built Northwestern into a program that in no way resembles the Big Ten doormat it used to be. James Franklin seems to be doing the same thing at Vanderbilt in spite of the ferocity of the SEC. If these coaches can string together a few more successful seasons, the academics/athletics combo becomes a more potent recruiting tool. Elite players do want a great degree, but not at the expense of winning. If Northwestern and Vandy keep proving they can win, they could join Stanford and Notre Dame in the upper reaches of the rankings.”

What do you make of these rankings? For what it’s worth, I think Staples nailed Michigan and Northwestern’s spot but misfired on Michigan State and Ohio State.

It’s hard to argue about a team being ranked No. 4, however with what Ohio State returns from a team that went 12-0 in its first year under Urban Meyer, it’s difficult to imagine there are three better teams to start the season. And for Michigan State, I think even Michigan State fans would say their spot is a little too optimistic.

What about Nebraska? That’s a good question. With that offense, it’s surprising not to see the Huskers included.

About Brent Yarina BTN.com web editor Brent Yarina covers football and men’s basketball for BTN.com. He writes the popular uniform feature “Clothes Call,” which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina’s RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.

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14 Comments

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Old Man and the Sea on 5/7/2013 @ 5:07pm EDT Said:

What about Nebraska? They bring back pretty much everyone on offense, the defense can’t be any worse, and they beat Northwestern last year at home. They also did hang with the number 11 ranked team in his dumb top 25

Reality Check on 5/7/2013 @ 5:12pm EDT Said:

I disagree Michigan should be ranked higher.

David Ridenbaugh on 5/7/2013 @ 5:23pm EDT Said:

No comment about OSU sitting at #4 in the rankings? Is this more of the “let’s give no credit to OSU since they are supposed to be good” theme? You know, like Urban or Tressel seemingly not being eligible for Coach of the Year.

Reality Check on 5/7/2013 @ 5:32pm EDT Said:

Its clear to everyone in the know except for this writer that Michigan and Ohio State are the only teams who are legitimate top 5 programs in the Big for the foreseeable future, If MSU finishes higher than Michigan this year than I will jump off a bridge.

Faygo on 5/7/2013 @ 6:18pm EDT Said:

Can I pick the bridge, Reality Check? Top of the Mackinac Bridge would probably do it.

Doug on 5/7/2013 @ 7:55pm EDT Said:

Mark won’t do it, he said he wouldn’t post anymore and he keeps doing it. Michigan is always overrated, this year will be no different. OSU may be top 5, but Michigan? HAHAHAHHAAHAH

Will Edwards on 5/7/2013 @ 10:32pm EDT Said:

Nobody is scared of Michigan anymore. Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Stanford, Oregon, Clemson, Florida State, and Oklahoma are all clearly better programs right now. You guys might want to consistently be the best team in Michigan before trying to put your name up with the big guns in college football. Louisville has more cachet than Michigan right now. Reality

Will on 5/8/2013 @ 2:35am EDT Said:

well, Will Edwards, every year we get further and further away from the RR disaster and your opinion becomes more and more invalid. like it or not, Michigan is and will remain competitive in the Big Ten and at times be dominant under Hoke. I think I’ll take his nearly 10 wins a year over Dantonio’s barely 8 wins a year

Doug on 5/8/2013 @ 9:52am EDT Said:

Will Edwards, everybody knows this except for the delusional Michigan fans, they put so much stock into stars, those are wrong more than right, Michigan football hasn’t been anything since ’04, reality is so hard for the walmarters.

Josh on 5/8/2013 @ 11:39am EDT Said:

Michigan is over rated. Nebraska not rated??? Return a top 10 offense that barely lost anything and get more athletic on defense, yet not rated??? Oh, that’s right. SI is the same publication that picked USC #1 last year and Florida State a couple years ago. They went a combined 14 and 12.

Will Edwards on 5/8/2013 @ 2:26pm EDT Said:

Mark Dantonio is a higher level coach than Brady Hoke. As a defensive coach, Dino takes a backseat to only Nick Saban. I saw him build some of the most dominant defenses I’ve ever seen when he was the DC at Ohio State. I’m an Ohio State fan and I am glad that MSU is off our schedule for a while because they scare me more than any other team in the B1G. They have better, hungrier, non-entitled athletes and a much more physical defense. Mark Dantonio is one of the very best talent evaluators in college football and knows how to build a team. Brady Hoke is going to have 20 offense lineman on his roster.

Reality check on 5/8/2013 @ 8:24pm EDT Said:

I sense fear in your voice Doug, fear of Brady Hoke

Doug on 5/9/2013 @ 11:03am EDT Said:

mark, Hoke may be the most overrated coach in the big ten, but that’s typical of Michigan coaches, four loss Floyd did it year after year at michigan with all that talent. Appy St. ring a bell? HAHAHAHAHAH

Will Edwards, thanks for the comments, MSU and OSU resume their battles in 2014 when the new conferences start.

OSU 12-0 on 5/11/2013 @ 4:20pm EDT Said:

MSU will be playing in the B1G championship game this year against OSU.