While there has been plenty of debate over whether Michigan State can bounce back from last season’s 3-9 record there haven’t been many arguments over whether the Spartans will be a top-25 team.
If things go well and Mark Dantonio gets his team back into a bowl game and wins eight games, there’s a chance the Spartans will be ranked by the time the season ends.
The release of the Associated Press top 25 poll on Monday reinforced that. However, a closer look shows one voter — Jon Wilner — did put Michigan State in his top 25.
Wilner is a reporter for the Bay Area News Group, which includes the San Jose Mercury News. When reached by email, he broke down his reasoning.
“It was basically a combination of three things,” Wilner wrote. “Every year, some teams outperform expectations, and I try to factor that unpredictability into my ballot; it’s a matter of picking the right upside surprises. Second, I don’t think Dantonio has forgotten how to coach, and there should be no sense of satisfaction among the players. Lastly, the schedule: No Wisconsin, no Nebraska and Notre Dame at home. I think they can win seven or eight, which would make them a ranked team by the end of the season.”
Of course, there are always plenty of factors involved, including the fact Michigan State will be counting on plenty of inexperienced players and happens to be in one of the toughest divisions in college football.
But Wilner’s points are valid, and for Michigan State fans there is surely a hope that he’s proven right by the time the season comes to a close.