Michigan State’s win over No. 7 Penn State on Saturday garnered national attention and apparently impressed the College Football Playoff selection committee, which put the Spartans 12th in its rankings, released Tuesday.
Coach Mark Dantonio’s team leapt forward considerably from its No. 24 ranking a week ago. The win over the Nittany Lions marked Michigan State’s third win over a currently ranked team in the Associated Press Top 25, after Iowa and Michigan.
The Spartans (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) had already risen considerably in other national polls. The AP Top 25 moved them up 11 spots from No. 24 to No. 13, and the Amway Coaches Poll brought them back from an unranked spot to No. 16.
Coming off a 3-9 season, Michigan State and its young roster had much work to do to return to the national spotlight. A 2-1 non-conference schedule with wins over MAC schools and a loss to Notre Dame didn’t cut it.
But with four straight wins to open Big Ten play, the Spartans began to turn heads. A 14-10 road win over Michigan appeared to be the signature victory of the year before Saturday’s upset.
Before that win over Penn State, though, Michigan State took a bump in the polls following a 39-31 triple-overtime loss at Northwestern. Six games into the conference slate, the Spartans have still not played in a game decided by more than one possession.
Michigan State won’t yet be thinking about the College Football Playoff. No two-loss team has ever been selected in its short history. Undefeated Wisconsin might be the only hope for the conference.
But a Big Ten East division title remains within its grasp. A win over Ohio State on Saturday would put the Spartans in the driver’s seat with only games against Maryland and Rutgers to go.
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