Since Michigan State's recent 45-7 trouncing of Jacksonville State last Friday night, it looks like the Big Ten Conference has a brand new darling.
On Tuesday, the latest Coaches Poll was released and it has the Spartans having moved up just outside of the Top 5 rankings, eclipsing the former top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at No. 6 overall in the nation. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, fell one spot to No. 7 after their at-times-shaky victory over Navy.
Nebraska and Wisconsin are the only other Big Ten teams ranked in the Coaches Poll at No. 19 and No. 18, respectively. Michigan won it's season-opening match up against Appalachian State in high form by a score of 52-14. Though the Wolverines did not crack into the Top 25 rankings, they did garner a number of votes this time around.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio told the press that he was completely focused on the upcoming battle with the Oregon Ducks, who remain steady at No. 3 in the nation after their first win of the season.
“Our program has taken steps since coming here in 2007, and I sort of feel like, whatever year it was when we decided to play Oregon home and home, when they asked me, ‘Do you want to play them?’ I felt like we needed to be at this point in 2014 to be able to play a game like that,” Dantonio said. “Every game we play, every game on a big stage we play, creates another opportunity for Michigan State and our program to make a statement – one way or the other.
“Sometimes maybe we haven’t gotten there and we’ve taken a step back,” Dantonio added. “Remember we played Ohio State on [ESPN] Gameday in 2008 and we weren’t quite ready yet, and we lost, convincingly. But the next week we gathered things up and we went down and played very well in Ann Arbor. It’s not the end-of-the-world-type situation, but I think we’ve taken the right steps to try and get into a game like this so that people can say, ‘Hey, if they win this football game … ‘ it sends you farther up the ladder, maybe.”
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/Michael Ferro.