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 (7-1)
Previous rank: 5/5
The Buckeyes got a tougher game out of Penn State than perhaps even they expected, but still managed to win by double digits in a 33-24 win in the Horseshoe. It wasn’t the most impressive victory, but quarterback C.J. Stroud was efficient and took care of the ball, completing 22 of 34 passes for 306 yards and a score. TreVeyon Henderson was excellent as well, rushing 28 times for 152 yards and a score. Ohio State should remain No. 5 in both polls, but that’s secondary at this point of the season. Ohio State knew an undefeated Big Ten East rival would lose its first game, which only means good things moving forward in the division race.
Previous rank: 7/8
Oregon should remain static heading into the Week 10 rankings, even with a 52-29 win over Colorado in Pac-12 play — its first game that didn’t end with a one-possession difference since a 41-19 win over Arizona on Sept. 25. Regardless, the Spartans will almost certainly jump the Ducks in the ensuing rankings as a result of their top-10 ranked win over the rival Wolverines. Conversely, the Buffaloes are 2-6 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 rankings, 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.
MORE: Harbaugh explains decision to play J.J. McCarthy over Cade McNamara in game-changing fumble
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 (6-2)
Previous rank: 10/9
Lane Kiffin’s aggressive playcalls came back to bite the Rebels against No. 18 Auburn in a 31-20 loss. The Rebels were three times turned away on fourth down in the Auburn red zone. Ole Miss falls to No. 3 in the SEC West with the loss, needing both Alabama and Auburn to lose if it wants to represent the division in the SEC championship game.
The Rebels’ loss is Michigan’s gain. Ole Miss will likely fall to 15 or lower in the latest set of rankings, almost certainly ensuring Michigan falls no lower than 10th.
Notre Dame (6-1)
Previous rank: 11/11
Notre Dame didn’t shrink in the primetime spotlight, even as North Carolina and Sam Howell refused to go away in what was ultimately a 44-34 Fighting Irish victory. Brian Kelly and Co. may have been the biggest winners on Saturday with Ole Miss, Iowa and Michigan all falling in front of them. They should move up at least two spots — potentially three, if Michigan drops far enough — putting them in striking distance of the Playoff ahead of the first set of rankings.
Previous rank: 6/6
The bad news, obviously, is that Michigan lost. The good news? It’s still likely a top-10 team — whether the Wolverines fall to No. 9 or 10 remains to be seen — and 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.