ESPN college football analyst Desmond Howard is going against the grain, and he’s not wavering.

The former Michigan Wolverine picked Michigan State to emerge from the Big Ten and play for the College Football Playoff. Normally picking a No. 5 team to win its conference wouldn’t need much justification. But Howard didn’t pick the defending national champions and consensus No. 1 team in college football to earn a Big Ten title.

The Lansing State Journal got a hold of Howard on Wednesday and asked him why he didn’t pick Ohio State to win the Big Ten title.

“First and foremost, I think it’s just easy to follow everybody’s lead and pick the favorite to win. It doesn’t take any creativity or any type of imagination to do that,” Howard said by phone to the Lansing State Journal on Wednesday. “When you look at other options and teams that could possibly win conference championships, then I think because of their recent history against the Buckeyes, I think (the Spartans) are a viable option to win the conference.

“Obviously, Connor Cook is a guy coming into the season that a lot of people are high on, based on his resume and body of work. I think the defense, even though they lost Pat Narduzzi to Pitt, they still hired within. It’s not like they’re dealing with a new coaching staff with a new scheme and new terminology and all that type of stuff. That should remain the same, so the players should be comfortable in that regard.”

Howard was one of six ESPN analysts that went with MSU over Ohio State.

Their regular season battle proved to be the difference in the Big Ten East race, and ultimately kept Ohio State alive for its eventual national championship.

It’s worth noting that Howard also picked Stanford to win the national title. The Cardinal, of course, lost to Northwestern to kick off the season.

Howard will be making the trip to East Lansing on Saturday with the ESPN College GameDay crew for Michigan State’s showdown with Oregon.

Conventional wisdom says Howard might be slowly winning over the MSU faithful. It only took him 25 years.