2013 Seminoles vs. 2013 Spartans
Now to the heavyweight fight.
Florida State was a juggernaut during the regular season. Their smallest margin of victory was a 14-point win over Boston College. All other games were decided by at least 28 points and the Seminoles averaged 51.6 points per game. Yes, they had an 18-point deficit in the title game, but once they started covering up their offensive play-calling method, Auburn crumbled (rumor is that Auburn assistant coach and ex-FSU quarterbacks coach Dameyune Craig recognized the Seminoles’ play-calling signals).
The Spartans had nowhere near the offensive numbers of Florida State, all while playing an easier schedule (FSU having played and beaten five teams that finished the season in the AP top 25 vs. the Spartans’ four).
Defensively, while Michigan State was top in the nation in total yards and rushing yards, and third in passing yards and points per game, Florida State was not far behind, ranking third in total yards, first in passing yards and points per game, but 18th in rushing yards. The last stat is where Michigan State could have had the advantage in the game.
One way to slow down the high-octane Seminole offense is to keep them off the field and the way to do that is to run the ball and milk the clock.
But when the Seminole offense was on the field, there was no stopping them, there was only containing them for so long. They ended the season with 42 passing touchdowns and 42 rushing touchdowns so there wasn’t really a weakness that any team could attack. Yes, MSU was elite at stopping the run, but that just meant more opportunities for a Heisman-winning quarterback to make plays. In the title game alone, they had three drives of over nine plays while also having a five-play drive for a touchdown. A team that can grind out drives (exhausting a defense) but also hit you with big plays is almost impossible to defend.
But if anyone could do it, it was the 2013 Michigan State Spartans. There’s no doubt that Florida State would be favored in this hypothetical matchup but that’s exactly where Mark Dantonio would want this team to be. The Spartans were underdogs in the Big Ten title game and in the Rose Bowl and came out on top in both those contests.
I see the recipe for success.