Michigan State football: Bigger goals lie ahead for Spartans after Michigan win

Michigan State football led once, against Michigan, when the score was 14-13. But it didn’t lead again until it made a 16-point comeback, finalized by a 23-yard touchdown run by Kenneth Walker III. Heisman favorite.

In college football, there’s a line between good and great. We know Georgia is great. Even with one loss, Alabama still looks good. Are the Tide great? We’ll see. Meanwhile, Ohio State only beat Penn State by nine, as CJ Stroud struggled to find rhythm early on. For the first time in a while, the Buckeyes looked vulnerable. The last time they played a top team, they lost.

Can Michigan State beat Ohio State? You may remember 2015. That was when Michigan State took down an undefeated Buckeye team to win the Big Ten East and advance to the title game and eventually the College Football Playoff. They could do it again. Their goals are bigger now.

It’s easy to say that Stroud would tear right through Michigan State’s secondary, but that was also what most thought Michigan would do. They did, but Michigan State fought back against Michigan’s tough defense and walked out with a victory.

Michigan State football, Mel Tucker have big goals this year

Early in the season, I anticipated the Spartans going 6-6 — at best 7-6 — with a bowl game berth in mind. After a hot start, 9-3 became our expectation. Now, why can’t they go further?

The Spartans are ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll, ahead of Ohio State at No. 6. Michigan State is ranked No. 6 in the Coaches Poll. The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday (Nov 2). and some analysts have Michigan State in their top four.

5

Spartans 8-0

Last rank: 8

Michigan State’s game against Ohio State could decide the Big Ten East champion. The winner will likely be headed to face Minnesota or Iowa, as both square off in Iowa City in two weeks. That game will decide the winner of the West.

Michigan State could easily win against either team.

Bigger goals lie ahead

To win the Big Ten East, Michigan State would need to beat Ohio State on Nov. 20. They’d also need a win against Penn State, who recently went unranked.

It would be unfathomable to suggest an undefeated season in the second year of Mel Tucker, but why not? At this point, Michigan State has done everything it’s needed to do. If they can just hang on to wins against upcoming Big Ten opponents and surprise Ohio State, anything is possible.

If Michigan State is going to achieve these, Kenneth Walker III needs more of these performances. Many games between the Spartans and Wolverines are decided in the run game, but Walker stepped it up. With 197 yards and five rushing touchdowns, he’s solidified himself as the Heisman favorite.

The ever-humble Walker noted after the game, “Overall, I don’t feel like it was a Heisman moment, just a great team win… I just gotta give credit to the O-line.”

Tucker is the difference. Kenneth Walker III is the difference. Payton Thorne is the difference. This team is hard not to love and might be college football’s favorite story by season’s end.