Ahead of a huge matchup with No. 4 Ohio State, head coach Mel Tucker appeared on ESPN on Tuesday for the network’s CFP Top 25 rankings show.
The Spartans were ranked No. 7 in the latest rankings, one spot below rival Michigan, who Michigan State defeated 37-33 back in Week 9.
ESPN’s Rece Davis asked Tucker about MSU’s ranking, and how much the head-to-head result between the Spartans and Wolverines should matter in the rankings.
“I think it’s important,” Tucker said. “That’s why you play the games, right? So, we got it done against the school down the road at our place, and I think that means something.”
He also said that the committee rankings aren’t discussed much between MSU’s coaches and players.
“Not a whole lot. We don’t talk about it. I just tell the players to focus on what we can control. Focus on what’s next, the preparation for the next game. We all know what the bottom line is – we have to win. We control our own destiny.”
Tucker and the Spartans aren’t worried about where the Wolverines are ranked, their focused on what’s still in front of them, particularly this week.
“It’s just a matter of we have to do next, and the bottom line is we have to win,” Tucker said. “Our players know that, and right now our focus is on our preparation, what we have to do Monday through Friday, to get ready for the big matchup in Columbus.”
Kirk Herbstreit then asked Tucker what it will take for the Spartans to pull off the upset over the Buckeyes this weekend in Columbus.
“We have to play complimentary football – offense, defense and special teams working together,” Tucker said. “We have to be physical, we have to win the time of possession, we have to take care of the football and take it away. Those are all things that we have to do to win. Just do simple better. Just be us.”
Finally, Tucker was asked about tailback Kenneth Walker III, who leads the nation in several rushing categories and is a top contender for the Heisman Trophy.
“He’s special,” Tucker said. “He’s as good as I’ve been around. He’s a great person, he’s a hard worker, he’s just a great teammate, he’s very unselfish, he’s a humble guy. From a talent perspective, I can’t say I’ve been around a player that’s better than K9.”
High praise from a coach who spent several seasons coaching in the National Football League.