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The Huddle: Michigan State looks to play spoiler against Ohio State

The Huddle: Michigan State looks to play spoiler against Ohio State
North Dakota State kicker Cam Pedersen (36) reacts with holder Cole Davis (7) after kicking a 37-yard field goal on the final play to beat Iowa in September, something Michigan could not do in November. (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Each week during the season, visit "The Huddle" for the latest in college football news, notes, conversation and opinion.

This is notable

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Michigan State earned its first win of the Big Ten Conference season against Rutgers last week, and the Spartans shouldn't lack motivation Saturday with a chance to spoil Ohio State's season.

The Buckeyes are 9-1 and have jumped to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff ranking. They are unlikely to make the Big Ten Conference title game because of a loss to Penn State. However, if they win out, a trip to the four-team playoff is likely.

Enter the Spartans, who defeated Ohio State last season in Columbus to keep the Buckeyes out of the conference title game. Keeping them from the CFP would be so much better — or worse.

That was tweet

"NDSU and Michigan both occupied this locker room at Kinnick Stadium this fall. One team walked out with a win …"

— North Dakota State University Athletics (@NDSUathletics), with a photo of the visitors' locker room at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City

When Iowa upset Michigan last Saturday, North Dakota State also became a big winner. Shortly after the Hawkeyes kicked a game-winning field goal, the Bison, a Football Championship Subdivision team, trolled the Wolverines hard with a reminder that they defeated the Hawkeyes in September.

::

"Rutgers, uncomfortable silence, Rutgers, uncomfortable silence, Rutgers, uncomfortable silence! Control the controllables! #WearWhite"

— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin)

Penn State's coach said he would answer questions this week in one of two ways — talking about Saturday's game against Rutgers or with uncomfortable silence. Franklin does not want his team distracted by speculation around the CFP rankings, which saw his team climb to No. 8 this week after six consecutive victories.

Hot off the presser

"I think that this week the old 'Shawshank Redemption' statement, 'You're either busy living or you're busy dying,' really kind of means you are not going to stay the same. So from our perspective, we are either going to get better or we are going to get worse. We are probably not going to stay the same."

— Nick Saban, Alabama coach

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Saban is understandably concerned about complacency, but he could probably replace practice with a movie screening twice a week and his undefeated Crimson Tide would still roll. Alabama owns the longest winning streak in the nation, 22 games.

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"In the movie 'The Edge,' one of the classic lines Anthony Hopkins says in there, they're being chased by a grizzly bear in the wilderness and the bear had killed some people, he said: 'If one man can, so can another.' If one school can, why not us? That's what I told the players. If Northern Illinois, UCF, Houston, Boise and this year's version, Western [Michigan], if they can get into Jan. 1 bowl games, why not us? Why not us? They're going to give us the resources, we're going to hire the staff."

— Butch Davis, new Florida International coach

Thirty minutes away from his old post at Miami, Davis will try to transform Florida International, 3-7, into a program worthy of major bowl consideration. Davis was given a five-year contract to turn around the Golden Panthers.

Fresh out the Pac

Colorado and Washington State earned top billing as the game to watch this week in the Pac-12.

Who would have thought?

The Buffaloes are 8-2, with losses to Michigan and USC, and are ranked No. 10 in the CFP.

The No. 22 Cougars have won eight straight, seven in the Pac-12, after they dropped their first two games of the season to Eastern Washington and Boise State.

Cougars quarterback Luke Falk has passed for 3,610 yards and 33 touchdowns, with six interceptions, at the controls of an offense that is ranked 10th in the nation.

"They understand what they're going up against," Colorado Coach Mike McIntyre said of his defense, which is ranked 12th in the nation.

The Cougars have averaged more than 517 yards a game, but the Buffaloes have held opponents to an average of 308.

My Thiry

California didn't have a team in the national polls for much of the season after USC, Stanford and UCLA tumbled out of the rankings in the first few weeks.

The perception became that the Golden State state, once rich in football talent, had fallen behind. However, with two weeks remaining in the season, it's clear that couldn't be further from the case.

USC and Stanford have earned places in the CFP ranking, at Nos. 13 and 24, respectively. And California-bred talent has also propelled Washington, Colorado, Utah and Washington State into the top 25.

The No. 6 Huskies are led by quarterback Jake Browning from Folsom, receiver John Ross from Long Beach, and sack leader Joe Mathis from the Inland Empire.

Colorado is No. 10, and the Buffaloes' top three receivers are from Southern California, as are their top three tacklers.

No. 12 Utah also has a receiving corps produced mostly by Southern California high schools; and No. 22 Washington State's top receiver and rusher both call the Southland home.

Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry

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