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Michigan State football included in Top 15 of preseason AP Poll

The Spartans open with Western Michigan on Sept. 2

Michigan State football will open against Western Michigan as the No. 15 team in the Associated Press' preseason college football Top 25 poll. MSU will host the Broncos on Sept. 2 at Spartan Stadium.

The Spartans are ranked in the preseason AP Poll for the first time since 2019, when they opened the year at No. 18 in the country. Michigan State would go on to a 7-6 record that season, finishing unranked in the final AP poll that season.

MSU is coming off an 11-2 record in 2021, when they finished the season ranked No. 9 in the final AP poll of the season. Expectations are high for the Spartans again this season.

Head coach Mel Tucker enters Year 3 in East Lansing, and has Michigan State's sights set on a Big Ten championship and a trip to the College Football Playoff in 2022. The Spartans have made it clear this offseason that anything less would be considered a disappointment by their standards.

Perennial powerhouse Alabama will begin the 2022 season as the favorite to win the national championship. The Crimson Tide are the preseason No. 1 team in the AP Poll for the second consecutive season. 

Following Alabama is No. 2 Ohio State, the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten Conference championship. The Buckeyes had its streak of four consecutive league titles snapped in 2021. At No. 3 is defending national champion Georgia. The Bulldogs defeated the Crimson Tide in last year's national title game, 33-18.

Coming in at No. 4 is Clemson, who had it's six-year streak of Atlantic Coast Conference championships ended a season ago when the Tigers finished 10-3. Clemson is followed by No. 5 Notre Dame, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 7 Utah.

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The Big Ten's second-highest ranked team is No. 8 Michigan, which is coming off its first conference championship since 2004. Prior to last season, the Wolverines had never made a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game since the league split into divisions in 2011. 

Rounding out the Top 10 are a pair of Big 12 Conference foes, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 10 Baylor.

In addition to the Buckeyes, Wolverines and Spartans, the Big Ten Conference is also represented in the preseason AP poll by No. 18 Wisconsin. The Badgers are coming off a 9-4 record in 2021.

The Big Ten had five other programs receive votes in the inaugural 2022 AP Poll — Iowa (No. 28), Penn State (No. 29), Minnesota (No. 32), Purdue (No. 34) and Nebraska (No. 47).

Other Notable Rankings

No. 13 NC State is the second-highest ranked team in the ACC and the expected challenger to Clemson for the conference crown. Defending ACC champion Pittsburgh is ranked No. 17.

Five programs with new head coaches in 2022 were included in the preseason AP Poll — Notre Dame (Marcus Freeman), Oklahoma (Brent Venables), No. 11 Oregon (Dan Lanning), No. 14 USC (Lincoln Riley) and No. 16 Miami (Mario Cristobal).

After becoming the first ever Group of Five program to reach the College Football Playoff in 2021, Cincinnati will begin this season ranked No. 23 in the country.