The Michigan State Spartans sit at No. 13 in the Harris Poll, the USA Today Coaches' Poll and the current BCS standings, looking up at the likes of No. 12 Texas A&M and No. 6 Auburn. Mark Dantonio's team sits on the polar opposite end of the spectrum of the Aggies and Tigers, but the Spartans certainly are as deserving of praise as either of the SEC squads.
Even in a season when the Baylor Bears are a new elite squad on the strength of its defensive efforts, folks continue to ignore the point-prevention aspect of the game. The message college football sends on a near weekly basis is simple: You can be one-dimensional and get respect, as long as that dimension is offense.
That leaves Michigan State, a team playing some of the nation's best defense, on the outside looking in. In real terms, that leaves it stuck behind an A&M team that still has yet to stop anyone in 2013.
|National Rankings for Auburn, Texas A&M and Michigan State|
|Team||Points Per Game||Yards Per Game||Points Allowed Per Game||Yards Allowed Per Game|
Keep in mind, this is not a knock on the Aggies or the Tigers; it is a knock on the people supporting this notion. What exists is a biased narrative where teams are celebrated for being fun, and punished for winning, as so many term it, "ugly." Bad defense plus fun offense yields an exciting and, therefore, "good" football team. Great defense plus bad offense yields a team that must wait weeks on end, for more "fun" teams to lose, before being deemed worthy.
No need to differentiate between which half a team lacks, when propping up half-teams. Whether it is the top half that makes games exciting or the bottom half that does the leg work, half-teams are all one-dimensional. Instead of opting to favor one dimension over the other, all three of these high-quality squads should be celebrated.
Don't throw shade at Texas A&M or Auburn for bringing offense to the party. Rather, show some love to Michigan State for doing what so few teams do, throwing some D into the mix. There is no problem with celebrating the achievements of Gus Malzahn and Kevin Sumlin this season, but just make sure to point out that Dantonio is achieving success all the same.
Offense and defense both can win ballgames. The great teams bring both elements to the table. Most college football teams are not great, and most college football teams have glaring flaws. In the very rare instance that a team's flaws can only be traced to one side of the ball, it has a chance to be quite good, as long as the other facet of the game can perform at a high level.
The collegiate world is watching that unfold for the Tigers, the Aggies and the Spartans. Instead of downplaying one to glorify the other, put both elements on a pedestal as examples of excellence. All three of these teams are very good squads, and they are elite at what they do best.
Be it offense for Auburn and A&M, or defense for Michigan State.