Autoplay
Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Mark Dantonio said earlier Tuesday he had no intention of watching the announcement of the first set of rankings by the College Football Playoff selection committee.

Maybe he knew something.

Michigan State, at 7-1, was slotted in the same spot as the Associated Press poll — No. 8.

Mississippi State and Florida State, the only unbeaten teams in the poll, are in the top two spots followed by Auburn, Mississippi, Oregon, Alabama and TCU. Michigan State is next, followed by Kansas State and Notre Dame to round out the top 10.

But with six more weeks of the season left, there likely will be plenty of movement.

"I think our focus will be on our next football game," Dantonio said. "We'll spend most of our time on that and that's where the challenge is. This is the starting point for everything now, from a media perspective. And I'm really not quite sure how it will all even work, so we'll just let things happen as they do. I think the focus has to be on winning football games."

And while there will be much fretting and discussion over the first set of rankings, many teams have the chance to play themselves in or out.

"The College Football Playoff selection committee met for the past two days and we engaged in a lively and detailed discussion about who the best teams are in college football," selection chairman Jeff Long said. "We debated, we reviewed facts and statistics, and we used our judgment.

There are 18 one-loss teams in the FBS and the differences between many of these teams are slight. The bottom line is it's early, it's close and it's going to change."

Michigan State, which has beaten No. 15 Nebraska with its only loss at No. 5 Oregon, will have a chance next week to add to its resume with a game against No. 16 Ohio State.

"One thing I saw is Ohio State as far down as they are," ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said. "A lot of people believe if they beat Michigan State and win out they would have a decent argument because they are a conference champion. And one of the first criteria of the committee to recognize, if they are splitting hairs of a bunch one-loss teams and this happens to be a conference champion, that might be enough to get them in there. Where Ohio State is now, they have a long way to go to even be in the discussion.

"Whereas Michigan State, if they continue to win I think, obviously because they are higher, they have a much, much better chance of getting into the discussion and getting into the top four."

Whether that will be enough remains to be seen.

The Big Ten has been perceived as a weaker conference all season, and Nebraska at No. 15 is the only other team from the conference ranked.

And after the Ohio State game, Michigan State has no other games against ranked opponents with only a possibility of a rematch with Nebraska in the conference championship game.

"My thought is the cream is gonna rise to the top," Dantonio said. "The eventual champion out of this conference will have a great opportunity.

"It's another poll and I'm sure they have their methods and it will be interesting to watch as it moves through. But the focus of our football team needs to be on the next challenge and we need to try and live in the present and that's two weeks from now with Ohio State."

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/mattcharboneau

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE