Michigan State Spartans: Breaking Down Columnist Drew Sharp’s AP Ballot


It’s been a while since I published a Michigan State Spartans preview on Detroit Jock City, so why not start now after the program’s crushing defeat at home against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

I had the opportunity to watch my first game from the student section rather than the press box this season at Spartan Stadium last Saturday while the cold air and occasional snow settled onto the metal bleachers.

As I was walking back to the dorms following Michigan State’s 49-37 loss to their Big Ten rival, I knew that this game would knock them out of the Top 10 in the polls and ultimately, eliminate them from playoff contention.\

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But I didn’t think that a two-loss Michigan State would find themselves out of the Top 25. However, one AP voter thought the 12-point defeat was enough to leave the Spartans unranked.

Local product, Drew Sharp, a sports columnist at the Detroit Free Press, wrote a piece this past Sunday in which he explained why he left Michigan State out of his AP Top 25 ballot.

Sharp writes that their less than stellar performance in front of the national spotlight for enough for him to simply disregard the Spartans.

"But Michigan State’s disappointing effort against the Buckeyes only reaffirmed the nation’s reluctance in trusting any hype regarding the Big Ten.The Spartans fell out of my weekly Associated Press Top 25 poll altogether."

Nothing like stirring controversy by simply blowing the tops off of every die-hard Spartans fan in the state of Michigan. In less than a week, Michigan State went from potential playoff contender to being ranked lower than Louisville, Utah and Texas A&M, from the eyes of Sharp.

How about this: According to Sharp, a two-loss Big Ten team is the equivalent to the likes of California, Washington, Kentucky and South Carolina. Why? Sharp later writes in his column:

"Two-loss Big Ten teams are the equivalent of a four-loss SEC or Pac-12 team."

While both Kentucky and South Carolina have five losses this season, it’s the closest comparison to a four-loss SEC conference program. The Gamecocks do have four-wins this year, but considering they’re in the East division, no one cares outside of Columbia.

At this point, does the rest of the season even matter? Spartan fans better hope that Michigan pulls off the upset of the 21st century by knocking off the Buckeyes at the Horseshoe. Otherwise, any aspirations for a playoff spot or hoisting the Big Ten championship trophy once again can be flushed down the toilet.

With three games left on their schedule, No. 12 Michigan State will travel to College Park, Maryland to take on the Terrapins in their six ever meeting.

There’s no question that the Spartans (7-2) will have to pummel Maryland (6-3) if they want their chances of appearing in a high-level bowl game against a formidable opponent to remain at large. This will be Michigan State’s first road game this season since their 56-17 victory over Indiana.

The biggest thing to watch is Maryland’s defense going up against Connor Cook, Jeremy Langford, Tony Lippett and the rest of the Michigan State offense. According to the Associated Press, Cook threw a career high, 358-yards on Saturday against the Buckeyes. Langford is also riding a 13-game streak of 100-yards rushing or more.

If the Spartans score 34 points this weekend, they will break the program’s record for most points in a single season. They also need three more touchdowns to break the record for most offensive touchdowns in a season.