No. 9 Michigan State

Hey, Spartans, why those long, upper-peninsula faces? Pull yourself together lads and tell yourself things will be finer than Magic in 1979.

Losing a big game isn't the worst thing to ever happen. Consider this: Spartan warriors from ancient times weren’t allowed to live with their wives until age 30.

There is absolutely zero-zilch-squat shame in losing to Alabama in last year’s semifinals of the College Football Playoff, the “Wonder Bread” of innovative post-season names.

Wait, what, you lost 38-0? [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here. [/membership] [membership]

Ok, that’s bad, really bad, especially on national TV, but as Rams’ rookie quarterback (and Copernicus denier) Jared Goff suggested on “HBO Hard Knocks” recently: “the sun is always going to rise tomorrow in the west.”

Michigan State had to suck on that sucky Alabama loss all winter only to watch its highly-touted basketball school get bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

“That game sort of got out of hand,” Coach Mark Dantonio said about Alabama at Big Ten media days. “My wife tells me ‘get over it.” She says ‘get over it, you lost.’”

Happy wife, happy life, coach, so put that defeat out of your mind. Don’t let anyone remind you the Crimson Tide only defeated UL Monroe, 34-0, last year.

Redemption is a great motivator. Michigan State should be highly motivated to show the world the Spartans were better than that. It’s time to expectorate last year’s cotton-mouthed performance.

Note how many times in history a team has vindicated defeat with a bounce-back victory.

So, yeah, let’s hope you get another shot at the Crimson Tide.

In 1975, UCLA got trounced by Ohio State in the regular season, 41-20, at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

But the Bruins got redemption in the Rose Bowl by slapping a historic win over Woody Hayes’s top-ranked Buckeyes, denying Ohio State the national title.

There is a chance UCLA Coach Dick Vermeil may have even cried after the game.

And what about college basketball?

In 1990, UNLV hammered Duke, 103-73, in the NCAA title game in Denver.

Next year, though, the same teams (basically) met again in the national semis but this time the Dookies won.

And who can forget the Boston Red Sox of 2004, rallying from a 38-0 deficit in game three to beat the Yankees? That story only gets bigger every year.

The Spartan mindset is simple: Send Furman a dirty message in the opener on your way to winning the Big Ten and getting a rematch with Alabama in the CFP. Then make snake-oil carpetbagger Nick Saban regret he ever left East Lansing to win five national titles elsewhere and become the greatest college football coach of his generation.

Sound like a plan? You still have Malik McDowell returning at defensive tackle, right? And LJ Scott at tailback? Losing quarterback Connor Cook will be an adjustment, but Alabama wins national titles with a new quarterback almost every year.

The bottom line is stable: Michigan State has won 87 games, in nine years, under Dantonio.

“But there’s always that next step,” Dantonio said recently.

It’s time for Michigan State to step it up.

Rankman's countdown so far:No. 16 Boise State, No. 15 Washington,No. 14USC, No. 13UCLA, No. 12Stanford, No. 11 Oregon, No. 10 Ohio State[/membership]

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