MSU's BCS shot and Week 1 takeaways

Updated: September 2, 2012, 12:27 PM ET
By Travis Haney

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Make no mistake that Le'Veon Bell, from first-quarter hurdle to final touchdown, was the star of Michigan State's 17-13 victory against the Boise State Broncos. He finished with 265 total yards on a cold-tub-worthy 50 touches, immediately launching himself into the Heisman discussion.

But here is the reality for the Michigan State Spartans: Their fate as a Rose Bowl contender -- or something more -- isn't hitched to Bell's running as much as the team's unproven passing game and particularly its play at receiver. That's the likely difference between a trip to Pasadena and a trip to Tampa or Orlando come bowl time.

That the Spartans are one critical (but fixable) weakness away from having a legitimate stake in the Big Ten and national title races, in a season that might provide one of the more favorable paths to both goals than they'll see in coming years, is just one of the big takeaways coming out of the first Saturday of the 2012 college football season. We learned a lot in Week 1 (with a few games still to come), from Clemson's improved defense to the (seemingly) rocky starts for a pair of top-10 squads to an impressive performance from an SEC East team.