This. Is. East Lansing.
The home of the newly minted No. 2 Spartans of Michigan State hosted a service academy for the first time on Saturday, but Mark Dantonio and Co. were less than hospitable to Air Force on the field. The 35-21 final score makes it seem like a fairly even game, but the Spartans were up 35-7 early in the third quarter before they took their foot off the gas and let the Falcons make the scoreline look a little more respectable.
The fact is MSU was just a higher caliber team in all areas. Air Force turned the ball over three times, including a 64-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Spartan QB Connor Cook averaged more than 10 yards per pass and threw four touchdown passes while racking up 247 pass yards. Plus, Cook wasn't even Michigan State's biggest star of the day. Wide receiver Aaron Burbridge averaged just shy of 20 yards per catch and snagged three of the Spartans' four touchdowns on the way to an 156-yard outing.
But, the Falcons were able to hold MSU to a paltry 77 rushing yards. Dantonio is surely looking for more on the ground from his Spartans.
"We've got to run the ball more effectively and protect the quarterback better, which has not been a problem," the coach told ESPN. "But they put a lot of guys up there, brought a lot of pressure, so we need to be able to handle those situations."
That never satisfied attitude is a big reason why the Spartans have become an elite program and jumped TCU to claim Alabama's vacated No. 2 spot.
Yes, it's impressive to beat Oregon. Yes, their handling of Air Force showed their ability to completely dominate on the field. But, what separates the Spartans from other top programs and lifted them to No. 2 (and will possibly lift them to No. 1 if Ohio State doesn't get their act together) is the hunger for improvement even following a quality W.
Other big moves
Alabama dropped to No. 12 after falling to No. 15 Ole Miss, who jumped to a No. 3 tie with TCU. Notre Dame jumped to No. 6 after downing No. 14 Georgia Tech, who fell to 20. Stanford entered the Top 25 at No. 21 after upsetting No. 6 USC in Pasadena, who fell all the way down to 19. LSU's domination of Auburn kicked them out of the Top 25 and bumped themselves up to No. 8. Northwestern jumped six spots to No. 17 by staying perfect against Duke.
Others receiving votes:
Mississippi State 52, West Virginia 48, Tennessee 45, California 38, Toledo 36, Arizona State 25, Houston 22, Auburn 20, Temple 20, Texas Tech 20, Boise State 17, Miami 13, Iowa 10, Kansas State 8, Florida 7, NC State 5, Minnesota 4, Virginia Tech 4, Memphis 1