With its win against Georgia in the Outback Bowl last season, Michigan State made one thing very clear: It wants to compete with the SEC.
Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel noticed, and listed Michigan State among the top five teams that could end the SEC's BCS title streak.
Here is what he had to say:
"Two years ago, a 9-3 SEC team (Alabama) thoroughly outclassed Mark Dantonio's team in a bowl game, 49-7. One New Year's Day later, Michigan State -- 22-5 the past two years -- topped a 10-3 SEC team (Georgia) in double overtime. What changed? An influx of athletic defenders (ends William Gholston and Marcus Rush, linebackers Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, cornerback Johnny Adams) has helped Dantonio produce a swarming unit. The 2011 Spartans held foes to 2.8 yards per carry, seventh-best nationally, and return eight starters. Meanwhile, power back Le'Veon Bell leads a physical rushing attack. On the downside, Michigan State must break in new quarterback Andrew Maxwell and inexperienced receivers, but this team will win with defense first."
Texas, USC, Oregon and Florida State were the other teams in Mandel's top five.
Also from Sports Illustrated, Johnny Adams has been named to the SI preseason All-America team after Tyrann Mathieu was dismissed from LSU.
Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks moved onto the first team to replace Mathieu, and Adams was placed on the second team.
Will Gholston already was named to the second team.