Spartans earn No. 13 preseason ranking in USA TODAY Coaches Poll
Sophomore running back Le’Veon Bell runs into the end zone on Jan. 2, 2012 during the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. State News File Photo
As the MSU football team begins training camp this weekend, it will do so knowing it’s one of the 15 best teams in the country, according to the preseason USA TODAY Coaches Poll released Thursday.
The poll slots the Spartans at No. 13 — not that head coach Mark Dantonio ever reads much into rankings and preseason hype, but MSU finally is getting the national recognition the program has been craving for years.
The selection is MSU’s highest in the preseason since the newspaper began conducting the coaches poll in 1991.
Earlier this month, a panel of media members chose Michigan as the favorite to win the Big Ten championship. The Wolverines, one of five ranked opponents MSU faces in 2012, are slotted at No. 8 by the coaches in the initial poll.
The other ranked opponents include No. 22 Boise State, No. 24 Notre Dame, No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 16 Nebraska.
Before finishing No. 10 in the final coaches poll last season, the Spartans began the season ranked No. 17.
MSU has now been ranked in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll for a school-record 30 consecutive weeks, which began during the 2010 season, according to the athletics department. Throughout the last four years, the Spartans have won more Big Ten games than any other conference member, with 24.