The Michigan State Spartans‘ win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers sends them into the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday being undefeated in Big Ten play and at 11-1 overall. The big reason why Michigan State is worthy of a BCS bowl bid whether they win or lose that game is because of their outstanding defense.
Statistically speaking, this is as dominant of a defense as has the sport has seen in recent years. The Spartans rank first in FBS in total defense, run defense and passing efficiency defense. Michigan State comes in at second in third down conversions and first downs allowed. The Spartans are fourth in scoring defense. Michigan State’s defense has allowed the ninth-fewest passing yards per game in the nation.
The Spartans’ stellar numbers are a sign of consistency that few teams in the nation this season exhibited. Even in their lone loss to Notre Dame, Michigan State allowed only 17 points and held the Fighting Irish under 400 yards of total offense. If the Spartans’ offense had come around to its current point of efficiency earlier, this Michigan State team could easily be undefeated.
In all fairness, many have question the challenges that the Spartans have faced in their schedule. None of the teams that Michigan State has faced so far are ranked in the top 20 in total offense nationally. The two teams with the most productive offenses from the Big Ten, Ohio State and Wisconsin were not on the Spartans’ schedule. However, no defense has earned the opportunity to take on the challenge of a BCS game than Michigan State’s has.
If the Spartans win on Saturday, then they get the Big Ten’s automatic bid into the Rose Bowl. If they lose, however, they’re still worthy of a BCS spot because of the efficiency and consistency of their defense. No other team in the nation can boast the defensive resume that Michigan State can.