Michigan State landed at No. 16 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, released Tuesday.
The Spartans also came in at No. 16 last week before beating Rutgers over the weekend. They took down the Scarlet Knights, 40-7, on the road behind a defense that allowed just 14 yards rushing, Michigan State’s best mark of the year. Coach Mark Dantonio’s team finished off the regular season having allowed 100 yards rushing just four times.
The win completed Michigan State’s flip from 3-9 in 2016 to 9-3 this season. The Spartans also improved from 1-8 to 7-2 in conference play. Though they didn’t earn a Big Ten championship game berth, they matched the best single-season turnaround in wins in program history.
“We had been through the deepest of waters, and we were on our way up,” senior linebacker Chris Frey said. “There was only one way for us to go. I knew that the guys on this team had the ability and the fire in their hearts to get to this point. To be able to say that we flipped it and went 9-3 is just an unbelievable accomplishment for this team and this program.”
Michigan State continues to garner more respect from the CFP selection committee than from the other national polls. The Spartans came in at No. 19 in both the Amway Coaches Poll and the Associated Press Top 25, released Sunday.
Three Big Ten teams ranked ahead of Michigan State, the same as last week: Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State. That will play a large role in determining the Spartans’ bowl destination. A Big Ten team in the College Football Playoff would provide an important boost.
On Sunday, the Spartans will find out their bowl destination. The Citrus, Outback and Holiday bowls seem to be the most likely landing spots. Michigan State will return to a bowl game for the 10th time in 11 seasons under Dantonio after a one-year absence.
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