MSU Claims Top 10 Finish in Final USA TODAY Poll
EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ Thanks to its 33-30 triple-overtime victory over Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl, Michigan State (11-3) moved up three positions to No. 10 in the final USA TODAY Coaches Poll and one spot to No. 11 in the final Associated Press Poll. It marked the MSUâ€™s third Top 10 finish in the history of the USA TODAY Coaches Poll and its first since 1999 (No. 7 with a 10-2 record). The Spartans have been ranked in the USA TODAY Poll for 29 consecutive weeks, the longest streak for the program since the national newspaper began administering the poll in 1991.
It also marked the third time in the last four years that MSU has appeared in the final polls, as the Spartans ranked No. 24 (both polls; 9-4 record) at the conclusion of the 2008 season and No. 14 (both polls; 11-2 record) in 2010.
Michigan Stateâ€™s 11 wins tied the school single-season record, as the Spartans became bowl eligible for a school-record fifth consecutive year. The Spartans won the 2011 Big Ten Legends Division title with a 7-1 record and played in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. MSU went 4-1 in games decided by seven points or less in 2011 and 5-2 (.714) in games played against bowl-bound teams. The Spartans were listed among the AP Top 25 for 13 of 16 weeks in 2011, as MSU defeated three ranked opponents (AP rankings: No. 11 Michigan, No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 18 Georgia) in the same season for the first time since 2001.
The Spartans have won 22 of their last 27 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season, including a 14-2 record in Big Ten regular-season play. MSU has won at least 11 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history. The 22 wins over the last two seasons are the highest two-year total in school history and ties for seventh most among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams during that same period (Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin also have 22 wins from 2010-11).
In addition, Michigan State has won 14 straight games in Spartan Stadium â€“ its longest home streak since winning 19 straight from 1950-53 (teams coached by Clarence â€œBiggieâ€ Munn). The 14-game home winning streak is the fifth longest in school history (school-record 23-game home winning streak from 1903-07; teams coached by Chester Brewer); itâ€™s also the fourth-longest active home winning streak in the NCAA FBS (LSU - 17; Wisconsin - 16; Northern Illinois - 15; MSU - 14).
â€œAfter winning a school-record 11 games in 2010 and the schoolâ€™s first Big Ten Championship in 20 years, some wondered how Michigan State would manage higher expectations heading into the 2011 season,â€ Dantonio said. â€œLed by the winningest senior class in MSU history, we won 11 games for the second year in a row, the first Big Ten division title in program history and our first bowl game since 2001. We played extremely well in the close games and played our best football at the end of the season. So in 2011, we proved that this program isnâ€™t a flash in the pan â€“ itâ€™s been built for long-term, sustained success.
â€œOnce again, the senior class found a way to raise the bar for our program, winning a school-record 37 games over the last four seasons and defeating Michigan four-straight years for the first time since 1959-62. The 2011 senior class collectively placed its thumbprint on this program.
â€œWeâ€™re very excited about the strides the program has taken over the last five years, so now weâ€™ll focus on climbing the next mountain. Weâ€™re on the verge of accomplishing some special things here at Michigan State, but as previously stated, we canâ€™t do it alone. To reach our ultimate goals, it will take a championship effort from all of our stakeholders: our coaches, administration, alumni and fans. We all must continue to support our student-athletes in their quest for championships.â€
Michigan Stateâ€™s 2012 season and home opener is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 31 against Boise State. Dantonio expects to welcome back as many as 15 starters from the 11-3 team, including five on offense, eight on defense and two specialists.