Spartans Ranked No. 3 in Final Football Polls
Jan. 7, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State, which won a school-record 13 games in 2013 including a 24-20 victory over Stanford in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game, finished No. 3 in the final Associated Press and USA TODAY Polls, released Tuesday, Jan. 7. It marks MSU's highest finish in the national polls since 1966 when the Spartans ranked No. 2 in the AP and United Press International Polls with a 9-0-1 record.
Michigan State (13-1) became just the third team in Big Ten history to win at least 13 games in a season (Minnesota, 1904; and Ohio State, 2002).
The Spartans were ranked in the AP and USA TODAY Polls for the final eight weeks of the 2013 season, including the final listing. MSU didn't enter the AP Top 25 until Week 10 after its 42-3 win at Illinois.
It marked MSU's 13th Top 10 finish in the history of The Associated Press Poll and its first since 1999 (No. 7 with a 10-2 record). It also marked MSU's fourth Top 10 finish in the history of the USA TODAY Coaches Poll and its second since 2011 (No. 10 with 11-3 record).
Head coach Mark Dantonio has led Michigan State to Top 25 finishes in four of the last six seasons (2008: No. 24 in both polls; 2010: No. 14 in both polls; 2011: No. 10 USA TODAY/No. 11 AP; and 2013: No. 3 in both polls).
In its first-ever Bowl Championship Series appearance, Michigan State rallied from its largest deficit of the season - twice trailing Stanford by 10 points (0-10 and 7-17) - for a 24-20 victory over the Cardinal in the 100th Rose Bowl Game. Since a 17-13 loss at Notre Dame on Sept. 21, the Spartans closed out the 2013 season with a 10-game winning streak, including back-to-back wins over second-ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and fifth-ranked Stanford.
Michigan State earned its first Rose Bowl berth since 1988 by defeating Ohio State, 34-24, in the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Spartans finished their Big Ten regular-season schedule with a perfect 8-0 record for the first time in school history and claimed their second Legends Division title in three seasons. Michigan State became the 14th Big Ten team to post an 8-0 mark in league play (Ohio State 2013, Ohio State 2006, Ohio State 2002, Iowa 2002, Michigan 1997, Northwestern 1995, Penn State 1994, Michigan 1989, Illinois 1983 [9 games], Michigan 1980, Ohio State 1979, Ohio State 1975, Michigan 1971). The Spartans are the first Big Ten team to win all eight of its conference games by double-digit points since the league went to an eight-game schedule in 1971. In addition, MSU becomes the first undefeated Big Ten team to win all of its league games by double-figure points since Michigan in 1943 (6-0 record).
"The win in the 100th Rose Bowl Game was the perfect way to cap off a special season at a special place," Dantonio said. "Our team displayed great resilience throughout the season. It was no different in our last two games against our opponents in the Big Ten Championship Game and in the Rose Bowl where our team solidified a final No. 3 national ranking. We showed great poise and maturity, closing both games out in the fourth quarter.
"A team's success is measured at the end of the season, and we played our best football in November, December and on New Year's Day. We also proved that we could handle success, finishing the season with a 10-game winning streak. In our seventh year here at Michigan State, this season was about completion, as we accomplished our three primary goals: winning the Legends Division title, Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl Game.
"We had great chemistry and senior leadership on this football team, and many of our seniors had their greatest individual year, with numerous players being recognized with national and conference awards. They found a way to raise the bar for our program, winning a school-record 42 games over the last four seasons, including three-straight bowl victories. The 2013 senior class left a lasting mark on Michigan State University.
"Our focus will be to keep winning championships," Dantonio continued. "We have proven that we can consistently compete with the top teams in the country. As we move forward, we will continue to dream big. Spartans Will."
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