The most under-rated team in the FBS resides in the great state of Michigan.
To the surprise of many, it isn't the Wolverines but their in-state rivals the Michigan State Spartans. Head Coach Mark Dantonio leads a capable offence, and one of the best defences the Big 10 has ever seen. Outside of a loss to Notre Dame back in September, the Spartans have been perfect, working their way up the BCS rankings where they currently sit 16th.
With Nebraska, Northwestern, Minnesota and potentially Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship game still on the schedule, Michigan State has a chance to crack the Top 10 and wind up in the Rose Bowl. For a team you have heard very little about, the upside for the Spartans is incredibly high. And it's well deserved.
In their nine games, eight wins and one loss, the Spartans have given up more than 17 points just once. In their last three games they've combined to give up just nine points total. They have allowed 11.6 points per game which is third-best in the FBS. Now paired with their daunting defence is an offence that has provided capable of keeping pace. Sophomore Connor Cook has taken over as the starting quarterback and has tossed 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Jeremy Langford has done a respectable job replacing Le'veon Bell with 11 total touchdowns out of the backfield.
The fact of the matter is the Spartans have been dismissed because of all the talk that the Big 10 is "down" and the conference is well behind the likes of the SEC, Pac-12, ACC and Big 12. The truth is while the depth in the conference is down; the top end could compete with all of those other conferences. The three-headed monster of Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin is capable of hanging with the other powers.
Currently Michigan State sits behind Northern Illinois, Fresno State, and two-loss teams in UCLA and South Carolina in the BCS standings. On a neutral field the Spartans would win games against all four of those teams - a few of them handily. Depending on how they perform the rest of the season, it may take until the bowl season for Michigan State to prove that their ranking has been a sham all along, and the Spartans should have been considered elite long ago.
Teams don't need to score 60 points to be exciting or successful, and the Spartans are the number one team at proving that point. They have work left to be done, starting with the Cornhuskers this weekend, but keep an eye out for Michigan State as they take a run at the Big 10 Title and a berth in a BCS bowl game.
Other notes from around the NCAA:
-Michigan lost their first game at home under Brady Hoke, falling to Nebraska. They've combined for minus-69 rushing yards the last two games.
-Tyler Gaffney ran the ball 45 times in Stanford's upset win over Oregon, good for the new Cardinal school record.
-Auburn scored 55 points against Tennessee despite attempting only seven passes. They've won two straight games without attempting 10 passes in either contest.
-92 points and 1,092 yards in the Texas A&M win over Mississippi State. In likely his last game at Kyle Field Johnny Manziel tossed five touchdowns and three interceptions.
-Tyler Cameron completed five passes and threw three interceptions against FSU. Amazingly, he wasn't even the team's worst QB on the day – that title goes to Tanner Price who had three picks and only one completion. The six INT's by Florida State were a school record.
-Pitt upset Notre Dame 28-21. In the fourth quarter Ray Vinopal had interceptions on back-to-back passes by Fighting Irish QB Tommy Rees.
-The 38 points Alabama scored against LSU were the most since they put up 41 back in 1947.
-UCF RB Storm Johnson had his third 100-yard rushing game of the year and the Knights are tops in the American Conference. The stat may not be that impressive, but the name Storm Johnson sure is.