Another week, another top ten team will drop out.
But this time, he was guaranteed: No. 8 Michigan State won a 37-33 victory over No. 6 Michigan State at Spartan Stadium. Michigan State overcame a 30-14 second-half deficit, scoring touchdowns and two-point conversions in successive batches to tie the game late. The Spartans defense also came in big, limiting the Wolverines to three points in the fourth quarter and forcing two turns in the period – including a match-winning interception – for victory.
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It was a huge game, not only in terms of the way it was played, but also in terms of the implications for the Big Ten and College Football Playoff races. Oh, and the top 25 ratings will receive a change, too. Losing the Wolverines puts them at a disadvantage when looking forward in the last four games of the season, but it doesn’t completely eliminate them from competing for the championship.
With that, Sporting News details who stands to gain the most from Michigan’s defeat:
Ranking reflects the AP Top 25/Trainers Survey
Bender: The recent avalanche in Michigan turns the heat back on Jim Harbo
Ohio State (7-1)
Previous Rank: 5/5
The Buckeyes had a tougher game out of Penn State than they expected, but they managed to win by double digits in a 33-24 win at Horseshoe. It wasn’t the most impressive victory, but quarterback CJ Stroud was efficient and took care of the ball, completing 22 of 34 passes for 306 yards and a score. TreVeyon Henderson was also excellent, bursting 28 times for 152 yards and a point. Ohio State should still be fifth in both polls, but that’s secondary at this point in the season. Ohio State has learned that the undefeated Big Ten East contender will lose their first match, which just means going ahead with the division race.
previous rank: 7/8
Oregon should hold steady en route to the Week 10 rankings, even with a 52-29 win over Colorado in the PAC 12 — its first game not over by a single possession lead since its 41-19 win over Arizona in September. 25. Regardless, the Spartans will almost certainly jump the ducks into the next ranking as a result of their top-ten win over rival Wolverines. Conversely, the Buffaloes are 2-6 per season – not exactly the kind of win that fascinates voters.
The good thing about the Ducks is that they still enjoyed that valuable win over the Buckeyes earlier in the season. If Oregon State and Ohio State both win and take a playoff playoff as the Conference Champion with a single loss, it will be very difficult for the selection committee to justify letting the ducks go.
Michigan State (7-0)
Previous Rank: 8/7
Sparti is clearly the big winner in this scenario. Not only did Mel Tucker become the first Michigan State coach to defeat Wolverine on both his first attempts, but also led his team to a potential ranking bump. Oregon’s Spartans should jump in the upcoming rankings, replacing Michigan in sixth place in the AP Top 25 and coaches poll.
The Spartans won win-win games against Purdue and Maryland over the next two weeks before facing Ohio and Pennsylvania State to end the season. Michigan State will not win the first division title yet.
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previous rank: 9/10
How are the Hockeys doing in Big Ten West? Not great. They looked completely lackluster in the 27-7 defeat to Wisconsin in Week 9, not only taking them out of playoff consideration but putting their potential champion status in jeopardy. The Badgers (3-2 Big Ten record) are now second in the division, one place ahead of Iowa (3-2 Big Ten) as a result of their head-to-head win.
Iowa, who suffered the same fate as Pennsylvania in the East—losing a game, bye, then losing again—now needs help to win the degree. But a 10-win season is out of the question, given that the Hawkeyes still play Northwestern, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota. The gopher, who currently leads the division, will be a hit or a break game.
Ole Miss (6-2)
Previous Rank: 10/9
Lane Kevin’s aggressive rebel bite calls returned against Auburn No. 18 in a 31-20 loss. The Rebels were three times knocked out of fourth place in the Auburn Red Zone. The Ole Miss is third in the SEC West with a loss, and he needs to lose both Alabama and Auburn if he is to represent the division in the SEC Championship match.
Rebels’ loss is Michigan’s gain. The Ole Miss will likely drop to 15 or less in the most recent set of rankings, surely ensuring Michigan doesn’t fall below No. 10.
Notre Dame (6-1)
Previous Rank: 11/11
Notre Dame didn’t shrink into the prime-time spotlight, even when North Carolina and Sam Howell refused to go away in what was ultimately a victory for the Irish 44-34 fight. Brian Kelly & Co. may have been the biggest winners on Saturday with Ole Miss, Iowa and Michigan falling in front of them. They should advance at least two places — potentially three, if Michigan falls far enough — which puts them within close proximity to the playoffs ahead of the first set of the standings.
previous rank: 6/6
The bad news, obviously, is that Michigan lost. The good news? It’s still potentially a top-10 team – whether the Wolverines slipped to 9th or 10th – and in strong competition for the Big Ten and Playoff Show berth. The Wolverines need the Spartans to give up two games in the past four weeks – not an impossible task, considering they play the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions in back-to-back games – but they must bounce back in a big way to stay in competition.
Michigan has to avoid emotional hangovers in a home game against Indiana next week, then turn around and beat the Nittany Lions in Week 11. Maryland is the penultimate game of the season, followed by that all-important game with Ohio State. There is still a lot of football to be played, and there is still a lot of hope left for Jim Harbo and Company.