Memo To Michigan State: Watch Out For Dan LeFevour
If Michigan State were playing Tim Tebow on Saturday afternoon, it would be a big deal.
Okay, maybe not quite OSU-USC big—face it, some presidential elections have had less hype than the Buckeyes-Trojans showdown—but still a big deal.
After all, Tebow's a legend. Some are referring to him as the best college football player...ever. Let that sink in for a minute.
Florida's star quarterback has two national championships, one Heisman trophy, and approximately 87,432 ESPN features. So if somebody with those gaudy numbers was coming to town, East Lansing would be juiced.
Make no mistake, Tebow does have impressive numbers. He's rushed for over 2,000 yards in his career. That would be a nice stat for any running back.
Coming into this season, Tebow had thrown for almost 6,400 yards. That's over three-and-a-half miles of aerial attack.
Here's the kicker, though.
The quarterback who IS coming to Spartan Stadium this weekend has better numbers.
In the first three years of his career, Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour threw for 9,467 yards. In other words, that's 3,000 more than the "best college football player ever."
Oh, and LeFevour rushed for 2,235 yards—almost 200 more than Mr. Tebow (but who's counting?).
Total yardage? Tebow's on the short end of this discussion by 3,200 yards and change.
Here's one more stat that will make your head spin: The year Tim Tebow won the Heisman, LeFevour out-rushed him and out-passed him. Handily.
So why is no one talking about Dan LeFevour?
Or maybe the better question is, will Michigan State take the country's best statistical quarterback lightly because he doesn't play in the SEC, own a trophy, or perform overseas surgeries on spring break?
Memo to Spartans: Overlook LeFevour at your own peril.
Hey, I understand it's easy to rip on MAC schools. Not to name any names, but Bleacher Report's own Kristofer Green referred to the MSU-CMU showdown on FirstandBigTen.com as a "clunker" and predicted a 21-point Spartan victory.
I beg to differ. Or as Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast, my friend."
Let's dispel a couple myths about the best college football player you've barely heard of.
1. LeFevour can't handle the big stage.
I don't even want to hear this argument. The Chippewas' star isn't going to be rattled by 75,000 fans in East Lansing. Any guesses where his first career start was? I'll save you the research...it came a few miles down the road in Ann Arbor. After playing in the Big House, it's all downhill as far as crowd size goes.
2. LeFevour can't compete with the Big Ten.
While I realize that there's a difference between playing Ohio and Ohio State, LeFevour has put up big numbers against Big Ten schools when he's had the opportunity, most notably in a trio of games against Purdue.
The Chips faced off with the Boilermakers three times in 13 months during LeFevour's career, and Purdue could have (and maybe should have) lost two of the three contests.
In the 2007 Motor City Bowl, the Boilers needed a game-winning field goal on the last play to outlast CMU 51-48, and last September, Purdue overcame a 25-24 deficit in the final minute to survive yet another scare from Central Michigan.
The gang from Mount Pleasant isn't a one-man show either. There's some Big Ten-level skill around LeFevour. In fact, the Chippewas knocked off Indiana a year ago without their star quarterback, who was nursing an ankle injury on the sidelines.
3. LeFevour's best days are behind him.
While it's true that the senior's numbers dipped from 2007 to 2008—hey, after one of the best seasons in college football history, they pretty much had to—expect LeFevour to have a monster senior season this fall. Central Michigan is predicted to win another MAC title, and the quarterback that makes them tick will undoubtedly continue his assault on the record books.
With those arguments out of the way, I admit to being a little surprised that LeFevour played so poorly in last week's season opener at Arizona, a 19-6 Chippewa loss. You'll never guess, though, who came to the quarterback's defense and made excuses for one of the worst games of LeFevour's career (only 108 passing yards, 18 rushing yards).
Correct answer: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.
Dantonio told me Tuesday, "They had some lightning in the area down there [in Tucson], so they pushed the game back. The game was actually played at 11:00 [p.m.] Eastern time, which I think has to be a little bit unsettling for a football team trying to play at that point in time."
Spartan fans, is it too late to move kickoff to midnight instead of noon? Uh-oh.
More from Dantonio on Superman's kryptonite game in the desert: "You have to credit Arizona, they played very, very well—and at the same time, you knew that was not the same guy that you've been watching throughout the spring and in the summer on film. I'm sure that he'll get his game back together, and it's unfortunate he comes here to play to do that—I know he'll be excited about it."
Maybe we could get Dantonio a "Catch the LeFevour" fan club button or something. The coach kept gushing.
"He's a guy that's been to numerous bowl games...a very productive player. He has intangibles, he has toughness, he has experience—when you look for a guy as a freshman that's played all the way through, there's not too many, so he's pretty special."
No arguments here, Coach.
Hope the Spartans are ready.
This article is also featured on FirstandBigTen.com, a Bleacher Report blog dedicated to Big Ten football.
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