EAST LANSING, Mich. - After a record-breaking season in 2013 that featured 13 wins and Rose Bowl and Big Ten Championships, Michigan State enters 2014 ranked No. 8 in the Preseason Associated Press Poll, released Sunday, Aug. 17. It marks MSU's highest preseason ranking in the AP Poll since 1967 (No. 3).
It also marks the Spartans' 14th appearance in the Preseason AP Top 10: No. 10 in 1979, No. 3 in 1967, No. 2 in 1966, No. 4 in 1962, No. 6 in 1961, No. 8 in 1960, No. 4 in 1958, No. 3 in 1957, No. 2 in 1956, No. 4 in 1954, No. 2 in 1953, No. 1 in 1952 and No. 2 in 1951. Since 1950, Michigan State has appeared in the Preseason AP Poll 28 times.
Three of MSU's 2014 opponents are ranked in the Preseason AP Poll: No. 3 Oregon, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 22 Nebraska.
The Spartans return 46 letterwinners and 15 starters from last season's team that finished No. 3 in the final 2013 Associated Press and USA TODAY Polls, marking its highest placing in the national rankings since 1966. In addition, 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).
MSU finished its 2013 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. The Spartans were 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 became the first undefeated Big Ten team to win all of its league games by double-figure points since Michigan in 1943 (6-0 record).
"Our focus remains on winning championships," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "We have proven that we can compete consistently with the top teams in the country and will continue to dream big. We need embrace our preseason ranking and display the maturity it takes to manage that success.
"Ultimately, we will be measured at the end of the season, so we will again strive to be playing our best football in November, December and on into January."
The Spartans have won 42 of their last 54 games (.778), dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season. The 42 wins are most in the Big Ten and tied for ninth most in the FBS during that same time period. In addition, MSU has recorded 35 Big Ten victories since 2008, the most of any team in the conference (Note: Ohio State has won 40 games, but had to vacate seven victories following the 2010 season.). Since 2010, the Spartans have won two Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013), two Big Ten Legends Division titles (2011, 2013), and a school-record three-straight bowl games (2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl Game). MSU has produced double-digit win totals three of the past four seasons (11 wins in 2010 and 2011; 13 in 2013).
Michigan State also has appeared in a school-record seven consecutive bowl games (2007 Champs Sports, 2009 Capital One, 2010 Alamo, 2011 Capital One, 2012 Outback, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings, 2014 Rose). The seven-year bowl streak is currently the second longest in the Big Ten and tied for 14th longest in the FBS. MSU is also one of only six schools, along with Florida State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Oregon, South Carolina and Texas A&M, to win three bowl games in the last three seasons.
The Spartans are ranked No. 8 in the Preseason Amway Coaches Poll, released Thursday, July 31.
Michigan State's 2014 season and home opener is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 29 against Jacksonville State, with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m. on BTN.