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College Football Rankings, Week 9: How Far Will Michigan State Climb?

Another wild weekend of football produced a number of upsets that will undoubtedly shake up the rankings yet again, especially at the top of the BCS standings. Oklahoma, which was ranked No. 1 in the initial BCS standings, lost to Missouri. The Sooners are the third top-rated team in the last three weeks to lose, which opens the door for Oregon to move up in the polls to the No. 1 spot.

Michigan State almost became a victim of an upset, but the Spartans managed to stave off Northwestern after coming back from 17 down to improve to 8-0. Although it wasn't MSU's most impressive game, the Spartans certainly made a statement by coming back to win, so I doubt voters will hold the close game against them too much. Keeping that, Oklahoma's loss to Missouri and No. 6 LSU's loss to Auburn in mind, will the Spartans be a top five team when the new polls come out on Sunday?

Here was the top ten of the BCS last week (teams in bold lost on Saturday):

1. Oklahoma
2. Oregon
3. Boise State
4. Auburn
5. TCU
6. LSU
7. Michigan State
8. Alabama
9. Utah
10. Ohio State

Oregon, Boise State, Auburn and TCU will for sure all move up a spot as Oklahoma slides down the rankings. Michigan State will move up at least one spot as well with LSU losing, and I would expect the Spartans to also move ahead of Oklahoma. Yes, the Sooners lost to an undefeated Missouri team that looks very good, but there's no reason why 8-0 Michigan State should be behind them.

Based strictly on which teams lost, I have Michigan State slotted in as the fifth-ranked team in the new BCS standings. Could any of the teams behind the Spartans last week pass them in the new standings? To me, I don't think so. Missouri will almost certainly climb a number of spots this week after being ranked No. 11 previously, but would the Tigers be able to climb enough spots to jump MSU? I don't think a victory over a team that was ranked No. 1 for a week merits that big of a jump, so it would surprise me.

As for the other teams behind the Spartans, none seem like a real threat to jump them. Alabama, Utah and Ohio State all won big on Saturday, but nothing happened that should move them up in the rankings and ahead of MSU in my mind. Sure, the Utes are still undefeated, but their chance to move up won't come until Nov. 6 when they play TCU. As for 'Bama and OSU, each has one loss, so there's no reason why MSU should drop below either, especially since OSU shouldn't even be ahead of Wisconsin, whose only loss is to Michigan State.

Stranger things have happened with the BCS standings in the past and you can never for sure say what's going to happen, but I expect the Michigan State Spartans to be the No. 5 team in the country heading into Week 9. That's a sentence I never expected to write for a football story, but we are headed into the final third of the regular season and MSU is a win over Iowa and three mediocre teams away from a Big Ten title and an undefeated season.