MSU's Dantonio: We would have won title with playoff in 2013


At the end of the 2013 season, it was hard to find two teams playing better football than Florida State and Michigan State. The former didn't have a close game all year before squeaking past Auburn in the BCS Championship Game to win the title, and the latter beat previously undefeated Ohio State before topping Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

Just think how fun it would have been to see the two play each other had the College Football Playoff been around at the time. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio would have been on board with that line of thinking and believes that when push came to shove in a title game between the two teams, Michigan State would have prevailed over Jameis Winston and company.

"I thought we would have been national champions, to be perfectly honest with you," Dantonio told reporters at Big Ten Media Days. "I think we would have had a shot to do that because I think we were playing, coming out of the end of the season -- that stretch coming out of the season -- we were playing great football and we were believing in ourselves. Were we there at the beginning of the season? No. But coming out we were playing our best football in November and then into the championship game and then the Rose Bowl."

You have to love the old "what-if" game that seems to always become a fun activity in the offseason and at media days across the country. The Spartans would have been one of the few top-notch defenses FSU faced in 2013, and the same would be true for the Michigan State offense against Timmy Jernigan, et al. on the other side.

Heck, we were pretty close to that matchup happening in the title game as is. Dantonio's squad finished fourth in the final BCS standings and likely needed a Missouri upset win over Auburn in the SEC Championship game to make it happen.

"I just had a lot of faith in our football team as we came down the stretch, and I think our players did, too," Dantonio said. "So we're not going to doubt ourselves or sell ourselves short. We don't want to be conceited, don't want to be entitled, but we want to be a confident football team."

Although he might not be able to play Florida State for last year's BCS title, Dantonio does go into the 2014 season with an outside shot thanks to a quality defense and the return of quarterback Connor Cook, among others, on offense. Still, he's going to need that confidence early as the Spartans travel to take on Oregon at Autzen Stadium in Week 2.

It's always fun to play the what-if game when it comes to the past, but with the playoff in place this season, perhaps Dantonio and company can live up to the coach's words this year.

*Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter **@BryanDFischer.*

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