Why MSU is a Big Ten contender

Spartans' dominant defense could carry them to conference title game

Updated: October 29, 2013, 2:01 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider

Mark DantonioAP Photo/Michael ConroyMark Dantonio and the 7-1 Spartans are winning with defense.

It's an unfortunate fact of football life that dominant defenses just don't get as much attention as skill-position players. This is a primary factor why the Michigan State Spartans are currently flying under the national radar (No. 22 in the BCS standings) despite sporting a 7-1 record and having an inside track to win a spot in the Big Ten championship game.

But after breaking down MSU's game tapes and metrics, it is clear the Spartans' defensive prowess is good enough to make it a legitimate contender to win the conference this season.