MSU jumps to No. 17 in AP poll


MSU kicker Matt Coghlin (4) celebrates after kicking a game-winning overtime 21-yard field goal in the Spartans’ 23-20 win over Nebraska on Sept. 25, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Nathan Stearns, Sports Broadcast Director

EAST LANSING— Perhaps style points don’t matter in regards to AP poll rankings.

After knocking off Nebraska 23-20 in overtime on Saturday night to improve to 4-0 and 2-0 in Big Ten play, Michigan State rose up to No. 17 in this week’s AP Poll rankings after previously being slotted in at No. 20.

Despite not collecting a first down in the second half and only mustering 14 yards of total offense, a 62-yard Jayden Reed punt return for a touchdown with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter helped to tie the game and eventually force overtime where former Florida cornerback Chester Kimbrough would intercept Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez; a subsequent 24-yard run by Kenneth Walker set up Matt Coghlin for the game-winning 21-yard field goal.

Reed’s punt return touchdown, the first time a Spartan has done that in a game since Keshawn Martin against Northwestern on Nov. 26, 2011, springboarded MSU to its best start since 2015. Saturday’s win was also the first overtime victory that MSU has notched since Oct. 27, 2012 against No. 25 Wisconsin.

The Spartans are one of five ranked teams in the Big Ten, currently slotted behind Penn State (No. 4), Iowa (No. 5), Ohio State (No. 11) and Michigan (No. 14). After receiving 58 first-place votes, Alabama is currently ranked at No. 1 for the fourth week in a row, while Georgia, Oregon, Penn State and Iowa round out the Top-5.

After losing to NC State 27-21 on Saturday, Clemson dropped to No. 25 in the poll, the first time the Tigers have been knocked out of the Top-10 in 97 weeks.