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Michigan State Spartans 'by far' No. 1 team in East, 'top target' for Buckeyes

Is Michigan State The Buckeye's New Top Foe In The Big Ten?
Is Michigan State The Buckeye's New Top Foe In The Big Ten?
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

A lot of surprising things were said concerning Michigan State during last week's Big Ten Media Days: Quarterback Connor Cook made a provoked dig at in-state rival Michigan; head coach Mark Dantonio spoke about MSU's likely win in a national championship if a playoff system were enacted earlier in 2013; and a new motivational sign in the upgraded locker room drew some controversy.

Could Michigan State and Ohio State be the new top rivals in the Big Ten?
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

But it was this week, on Tuesday, that some of the most provocative comments came to surface.

Big Ten Network spent the day in East Lansing covering the upcoming Spartans' season and had a lot to say about the things they saw. One of the strongest opinions came during a 90-minute episode of "BTN Live," in which analysts Gerry DiNardo spouted his thoughts on what he was seeing in front of him.

“This is our eighth year covering Mark Dantonio, this is by far his most talented team – especially at the line of scrimmage,” GiNardo said during the broadcast.

The statement comes as a bold assertion considering that the Spartans lost a few key players from last year's Rose Bowl-winning squad, including one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Darqueze Dennard, safety Isaiah Lewis, outside linebacker Denicos Allen, and impressive wide receiver, Bennie Fowler.

GiNardo also added in a tweet: "After watching (MSU’s) practice today, my opinion hasn’t changed: Spartans are the team to beat in the East.”

It wasn't only GiNardo who was tossing off the high praise for MSU, as it also came from former Michigan safety and BTN analyst, Marcus Ray. Ray said that Ohio State has now become the biggest game on the schedule for Michigan State, instead of his alma mater, the Wolverines. He also said that the Buckeyes now have a new top foe in the Big Ten in the Spartans.

“I think that is gonna be the Big Ten East championship game, year in and year out, until the rest of the teams figure it out,” Ray said. “…I just think that Ohio State wants what Michigan State has. And Michigan State is Ohio State’s new biggest foe in the Big Ten.”

You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.