Another week, another team in the top 10 going down.
This time, however, it was guaranteed: No. 8 Michigan State was the victor in a 37-33 victory over No. 6 Michigan in Spartan Stadium. Michigan State overcame a 30-14 second-half deficit, scoring touchdowns and 2-point conversions on consecutive drives to tie the game late. The Spartans defense also came up huge, limiting the Wolverines to three fourth-quarter points and forcing two turnovers in the period — including a game-clinching interception — to seal the victory.
MORE: How Michigan State pulled off rally
It was a massive game, not only in the way it was played, but also for the implications it has on the Big Ten and College Football Playoff races. Oh, and the top-25 rankings will receive a shakeup as well. The Wolverines’ loss places them at a disadvantage looking ahead at the final four games of the season, but doesn’t eliminate them completely from competing for a championship.
With that, Sporting News breaks down who benefits the most from Michigan’s defeat:
Rankings reflect AP Top 25/Coaches Poll
BENDER: Michigan’s latest collapse brings heat back on Jim Harbaugh
Ohio State (6-1)
Previous rank: 5/5
The Buckeyes have to take care of business vs. Penn State later on Saturday but, assuming they do so, should remain unaffected in the latest set of rankings (assuming they beat the Nittany Lions handily). Ohio State knew an undefeated Big Ten East rival would lose its first game, which can only mean good things moving forward in the division race. Still, it will mean nothing if Ohio State doesn’t beat the Spartans and Wolverines.
Previous rank: 7/8
Oregon should remain static heading into the Week 10 rankings, regardless of how badly it beats Colorado in Pac-12 play. The Spartans will almost certainly jump the Ducks in the ensuing rankings as a result of its top-10 ranked win over the rival Wolverines. Conversely, the Buffaloes are 2-5 on the season — not exactly the type of win that wows voters.
The good thing for the Ducks is they still have that valuable win over the Buckeyes from earlier in the season. If both Oregon and Ohio State win out and claim a Playoff stake as a one-loss conference champion, it will be extremely difficult for the selection committee to justify leaving the Ducks out.
Michigan State (7-0)
Previous rank: 8/7
Sparty is the big winner in this scenario, clearly. Mel Tucker not only became the first Michigan State coach to defeat the Wolverines in both of his first two attempts, but also led his team to a likely bump in the rankings. The Spartans should jump Oregon in the coming polls, replacing Michigan in the No. 6 spot in the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll.
The Spartans have winnable games against Purdue and Maryland over the next two weeks before taking on Ohio State and Penn State to end the season. Michigan State won’t be crowned division champion just yet.
Previous rank: 9/10
How are the Hawkeyes doing in the Big Ten West? Not great. They looked completely lackluster in a 27-7 defeat to Wisconsin in Week 9, not only removing them from Playoff consideration but also placing their status as potential division champ in jeopardy. The Badgers (3-2 Big Ten record) are now second in the division, one spot ahead of Iowa (3-2 Big Ten) as a result of their head-to-head victory.
Iowa, which suffered the same fate as Penn State in the East — losing a game, going on bye, then losing again — now needs help to win the division. But a 10-win season isn’t out of the question, considering the Hawkeyes still play Northwestern, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota. The Gophers, who currently lead the division, will be a make-or-break game.
Ole Miss (6-1)
Previous rank: 10/9
The Rebels still have to play No. 18 Auburn but, assuming they win in Jordan-Hare Stadium — no easy feat — should move up one or two spots in the rankings, depending on how far the Wolverines drop. Michigan won’t fall far in the latest rankings — possibly remaining in front of the Rebels in the latest polls, considering how closely contested its loss to Michigan State was. But it’d be hard for voters to keep the Rebels where they are: Ole Miss’ ranked road victory over Auburn, coupled with two teams ahead of them in the rankings losing, should result in a bump of one or two spots.
Of course, that’s assuming an Ole Miss win. A loss completely throws that out the window.
Notre Dame (6-1)
Previous rank: 11/11
Another team in the primetime spotlight that must take care of business in order to benefit from Michigan’s loss. Assuming a win over Sam Howell and North Carolina, it’s likely the Fighting Irish only move up one spot, to No. 10 — and that’s only by virtue of Iowa’s loss. Don’t be surprised if Michigan remains a spot ahead of Notre Dame in the latest rankings, whether that be at No. 9 or 10.
Previous rank: 6/6
The bad news, obviously, is that Michigan lost. The good news? They’re still likely a top-10 team — whether they fall to No. 9 or 10 remains to be seen — in strong contention for a Big Ten championship berth and Playoff bid. The Wolverines need the Spartans to drop two games in the last four weeks — not an impossible task, considering they play the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions in consecutive games — but must rebound in a big way to remain in contention.
Michigan has to avoid the emotional hangover in a home game vs. Indiana next week, then turn around and beat the Nittany Lions in Week 11. Maryland is the penultimate game of the season, followed by that all-important matchup with Ohio State. There’s a lot of football left to be played, and a lot of hope still remaining for Jim Harbaugh and Co.