Charboneau's AP vote: Spartans jump to No. 3

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Michigan State's Macgarrett Kings (85) runs through a hole for a first down.

Week after week after week, college football is the gift that just keeps giving. The sight of Michigan State kicker Michael Geiger running down the field at Ohio Stadium, swinging his arm in a circle after his winning field goal as time expired, is the enduring image this week.

But the way this season is going, odds are it will be replaced by another memorable moment next week.

For now, let's stick with the Spartans. Their win on the road against the team I had ranked No. 1 in the nation vaults them up to No. 3 – almost certainly in the playoff field if the season were to end today. Michigan State's resume is as good as anyone's with victories over Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon and Air Force – all teams I have ranked in the top 25 this week. And the Ohio State and Michigan wins came on the road.

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They'll get a shot to bolster that resume if they beat Penn State at home next week and meet Iowa in the Big Ten championship game. A win there over an Iowa team I moved up to No. 5 likely would sew up a spot in the playoff field.

Ohio State dropped to No. 8, but its problems go deeper headed into the finale at Michigan. Players are blaming coaches for the MSU loss, and you have to wonder where the Buckeyes' heads will be for the rivalry game.

Michigan creeps up to No. 9 after the road win over Penn State. The Wolverines will need to win next week and then root for the Nittany Lions to upset the Spartans. If that happens, Michigan gets in the conference title game.

There was other jostling near the top of my rankings. Oklahoma State lost to Baylor, dropping to No. 10. Baylor had a heck of a bounce-back after losing last week and moved up to No. 7.

Farther down the rankings, Houston barely hung on to a spot after losing for the first time this season while LSU, Wisconsin and Utah dropped out of the rankings. LSU has lost three straight as the season spirals out of control while Utah lost at home to UCLA.

Mississippi State and UCLA jumped back in the rankings while Air Force and Washington State entered for the first time.


1. Clemson (2 last week)

2. Alabama (3)

3. Michigan State (8)

4. Notre Dame (5)

5. Iowa (6)

6. Oklahoma (7)

7. Baylor (10)

8. Ohio State (1)

9. Michigan (11)

10. Oklahoma State (4)

11. Stanford (13)

12. TCU (9)

13. Florida (12)

14. North Carolina (16)

15. Navy (18)

16. Northwestern (19)

17. Florida State (21)

18. Oregon (22)

19. Ole Miss (25)

20. Toledo (23)

21. UCLA (NR)

22. Mississippi State (NR)

23. Air Force (NR)

24. Houston (14)

25. Washington State (NR)