Well, it finally happened; Michigan State fans got their wish. On Sunday, it was announced that the Spartans (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten) were named No. 24 in the BCS Top 25 after their rollicking 42-3 trouncing of the Fighting Illini in Champaign, Illinois.
Many felt that the ranking is long overdue seeing as Michigan State's only defeat was at the hands of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, and only by a score of 17-13. In each of MSU's seven victories, they've won by at least 12 points, and in many circumstances, it's been much more than that.
What still has many major college football analysts and many green and white faithful alike shaking their heads is to how No. 24 Michigan State is still ranked behind a team such as the No. 23 Michigan Wolverines. The University of Michigan has played particularly poorly in the last few weeks and nearly lost a number of close games to some very sub-par teams. After the Wolverines' monumental win at home over the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, it seems that they can just do no wrong in the eyes of the BCS board.
At the start of the year, Michigan, Nebraska, and Northwestern were supposed to be the top talent within the Legends Division in the Big Ten Conference, but with each of those teams falling below expectations, the Spartans, who now lead the division, have fallen in the eyes of the BCS, as well - which isn't truly fair. Still, MSU is used to playing the underdog role and having to battle a little harder for their recognition, which is just fine with head coach Mark Dantonio.
Dantonio, who spoke to reporters on Sunday, talked about the importance of the upcoming game and ever-present rivalry with the Michigan Wolverines.
"I've always just believed as a coach that you embrace your rivalries,'' Dantonio said. "You know who your rivals are. It's there. Why ignore it? It's important to your program and everyone surrounding your program.''
Still, Dantonio isn't going to go so far as to say that he thinks his Spartans should be ranked ahead of the Wolverines, or, at least, he isn't going to say that publicly.
"I think most people approach it the way we do, maybe not as much publicly,'' the coach said during his Sunday night teleconference. "I think times have changed, there's more of a media frenzy, it just gets more ink.''
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.