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Three Takeaways: MSU - Penn State

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Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Three things that stuck out from MSU's 34-17 win at Penn State.

1. Tony Lippett is the real deal at cornerback

Lippett became MSU's first two-way starter in 46 years, and proved he still has the abilities at cornerback he showed as a redshirt freshman. Unlike Rutgers, Penn State actually attacked Lippett downfield with some deep balls, but Lippett played each one very well, recording one pass breakup and one tackle. I've mentioned before that we don't know how much long-term good it will do — Darian Hicks may be the No. 1 corner next year — but for the time being, Lippett playing part-time corner gives MSU its best chance to win its final game. I'm not going to go as far as some and say Lippett at corner earlier would have resulted in wins against Oregon and/or Ohio State, because there were many defensive problems, and Lippett hasn't matched up with a top-quality receiver yet. Oh, and Lippett remains an All-Big Ten receiver. Trae Waynes also put in one of his best games of the year on Saturday, recording an interception in the end zone, a pass breakup and four tackles, defending each deep ball well.

2. The receiving corps will be plenty talented next year

While Lippett and Keith Mumphery will graduate, the receiving corps is still loaded moving forward. Aaron Burbridge and Macgarrett Kings will be seniors next year, both gunning for the No. 1 spot. They both made big catches on Saturday, with Burbridge recording three grabs for 32 yards and Kings recording two catches for 49. Kings provides more big-play ability, while Burbridge has shown strong hands. R.J. Shelton and tight end Josiah Price have also proven to be reliable, and A.J. Troup and Monty Madaris have shown promise. Penn State's defense is the real deal, and it was difficult for MSU receivers to get open in State College, but when they did find open space, they made good catches.

3. MSU is in a very good position for a selection committee bowl

The Spartans are up to No. 7 in both polls, the highest-ranked two-loss team. I'm surprised MSU is ahead of Arizona, but a loss to Oregon would push the Wildcats back, anyway. In the College Football Playoff rankings, MSU is No. 10 from last week, but will move past Georgia and UCLA and could be jumped by Arizona. It's possible they could jump Mississippi State, too. The selection committee rankings determine the at-large spots for the four non-playoff bowls. It would be in MSU's best interest for teams that should win their conference games to do so, meaning Alabama (Missouri), Oregon (Arizona) and Florida State (Georgia Tech). MSU also would like Ohio State to win and possibly move into the playoff; or have Wisconsin win by so much that Ohio State falls behind MSU with its third-string QB. For what it's worth, CBS Sports Jerry Palm has MSU, OSU and Wisconsin all in committee bowls. While MSU isn't playing for a championship, an opportunity against a top-quality team in a fresh bowl location would be a great spot for the program to earn some national respect back this year. MSU's ranking and perception is basically based on their reputation, which is a remarkable thing to say.