With the college football season quickly approaching fans are gearing up and getting excited. Media is instilling the hype machine in every and any way possible. And, if you're from around these parts, it would be hard not to notice all of the national talk about Big Ten Football suddenly. But, specifically, Ohio State, Urban Meyer, Michigan and Jim Harbaugh. And, more Meyer; more Harbaugh; more Harbaugh; more Meyer. You'd never know that Mark Dantonio, or...Mike D'Antoni (former NBA coach), as he was called on ESPN last week, and his MSU Spartans are coming off of a second consecutive Top-10 finish with a Big Ten Championship in 2013, Rose Bowl Championship in 2014, and a Cotton Bowl Championship already in 2015.

First off, let's get the painful part to say out of the way. Ohio State deserves the recognition they receive as last year's National Champion. And, let's face it...they return a lot of play makers and their coach Urban Meyer is a hype-magnet. Then there's Michigan and Jim Harbaugh. This team, coming off of another disappointing season for fellow Michigan fans, you would think, given all of the attention, is a National Championship contender. Everywhere you look, it's Harbaugh-mania. And, Spartan fans, as painful as this is to admit, just looking from the outside in, you can tell he is definitely changing the attitude in the Michigan program every day. Fans have a reason to be excited, as do the players. A lot of hopeful fans and hype-full media are waiting to see if Harbaugh can get the results from his players on the field, when it really counts. Are expectations too high for Michigan this season? What is expected, after all? Will my fellow fans be able to handle the possibility of a minimal improvement? Will the media bail on the Harbaugh hype after one loss? Two losses? Six losses? It's all possible; anything is in college sports.

But, Spartan fans, don't let the hype surrounding those two teams get under your skin. As Coach Dantonio said recently, "Some programs are selling hope, we're selling results." And, they speak for themselves. Spartan fans have even more things to be excited about when it comes to this team. Pundits say it could be MSU's best offensive line ever. The same pundits say that the Spartan D-line is the best in the land. Connor Cook is expected to be one of the top quarterbacks taken, if not the first quarterback taken, in the 2016 NFL Draft. Sure, there may be questions about the "No-Fly Zone" and the young secondary. Former Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi is gone to coach at Pitt. But, it seems to me, MSU has some pretty key returners at important positions this year. Two winnable losses last season kept MSU out of the first College Football Playoff. And, they have a chance at redemption against both Oregon and Ohio State.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the underdog card plays well into Dantonio's "us-against-the-world" battle cry. We already know Connor Cook is fired up with a chip on his shoulder. And, quite frankly, that drive, attitude, and vigor is probably the intangible factor that this team will need all season long to duplicate last year, and get over the final obstacles between them and the promise land. Will MSU have to go undefeated to get a shot at the playoff? It's quite likely, though I think they could recover from an loss, if they're able to get the Buckeye monkey off their backs. But, if they're undefeated going into the Horseshoe Dumping Grounds, it will be a must win. A loss at Ohio State, even a first loss, would make it very hard for this team to get into that B1G Championship Game in December...assuming OSU is no worse than one loss at the time. And, if so, can MSU get some help from someone else in the division beating Ohio State...maybe in the final week of the regular season???? That would be drama deserved by all three programs!

As stated above, anything is possible in college sports!!

We'll be ready for the season opener Friday September 4 in Kalamazoo against Western Michigan. Joey Pants, Nick Chase from WMMQ, and  David "The Mad Dog" DeMarco and Brandon "Beanie" Howell from WVFN will be joined by "The Dean of Sports" Tim Staudt, Spartan Coaching Legend George Perles, and Duane Vernon at Harper's in downtown East Lansing for the first installment of the Sparrow Tailgate Show beginning at 3:30 PM!