Remember, this is the first year four college football teams will qualify for a shot at the national title in a mini-playoff. Were it still the same usual two, Michigan State would likely not get invited, even if they "run the table" for the rest the season.
But things have, and continue to fall in place for the Spartans to make it into the "final four". After an early loss to Oregon, consider what has taken place elsewhere with the usual suspects.
The Ducks themselves have been beaten. So has Auburn. Oklahoma just fell for the second time. Baylor got blitzed by unranked West Virginia. Alabama has lost one game, and barely hung on to win another by one point over also unranked Arkansas. To their credit, the Tide just tsunamied Texas A&M 59-0. It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature or Nick Sabin.
Shockingly, two historically door-mat teams find themselves in the Top 3. Mississippi State is #1, and Ole Miss #3. Both remain undefeated. But consider the games yet to be played. Miss State has to go to both Alabama and Ole Miss. Somebody has to lose those games. Then there's the SEC championship game itself. Only two can play, and somebody has to lose that too.
In the meantime, Michigan State has been taking care of business. In back-to-back road games they convincingly won at Purdue, and just throttled Indiana by 40 points. Next up for the Spartans is welcoming the floundering Michigan Wolverines. You just know the former "little brother" will be super-geeked to give their one-time nemesis an Adrian Petersen type switching. And they likely will.
Then Ohio State visits East Lansing. While the Buckeyes have certainly remained respectable in the wake of losing star quarterback Braxton Miller for the season -- it would be quite the upset if OSU were to knock off MSU. Besides, even when OSU has been at full strength in the last few years -- the Spartans seem to have their number.
After that, the Spartans pretty much have a cakewalk schedule until the Big 10 conference championship game. And if they stay healthy who's going to beat them?
Ah, but defending champ Florida State and media darling Notre Dame remain ahead of them as well in the standings you say?
True enough, but as yours truly signs off on this post, those two teams are about to play each other. Somebody has to lose. And you also know, given the alleged shenanigans swirling around Seminole quarterback Jameis Winston, the pollsters are just itching for a way to bury FSU in the rankings -- should they lose.
Nevertheless, when you add it all up, Michigan State has a terrific chance of going to the "final four".
They just have to take care of business, while the other usual suspects are knocking each other off.