July 29, 2014 at 5:13 pm

MSU's Mark Dantonio: We would have won national title with playoff last season

Mark Dantonio on Shilique Calhoun
Mark Dantonio on Shilique Calhoun: MSU coach talks about defensive end Shilique Calhoun

Chicago – Would a one-loss Big Ten champion be selected for the inaugural College Football Playoff at the end of the 2014 season?

That is a question that was debated by some at the conference’s media days in Chicago, but if the same system were in place last season, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is confident his team would have been in the field.

But that’s not all. Dantonio believes the Spartans had a shot to win it all.

“I thought we would have been national champions, to be perfectly honest with you,” he said Tuesday. “I think we would have had a shot to do that because I think we were playing, coming out of the end of the season -- that stretch coming out of the season -- we were playing great football and we were believing in ourselves. Were we there at the beginning of the season? No. But coming out we were playing our best football in November and then into the championship game and then the Rose Bowl.”

There is no doubt Michigan State was rolling. Its only loss came in the fourth week of the season at Notre Dame, and by the time the Spartans headed to the Rose Bowl, they had won nine straight games – all by double digits.

Michigan State finished fourth in the final BCS standings last year behind Florida State, Auburn and Alabama.

“I just had a lot of faith in our football team as we came down the stretch and I think our players did, too,” Dantonio added. “So we’re not going to doubt ourselves or sell ourselves short. We don’t want to be conceited, don’t want to be entitled, but we want to be a confident football team.”

Mark Dantonio and Connor Cook hold the Rose Bowl trophy after MSU's win over Stanford. / Dale G. Young / Detroit News