Kirk Herbstreit and the ESPN College GameDay crew will be in East Lansing, Michigan this week to preview the Michigan-Michigan State game.

It’s a game that Herbstreit believes will determine the national relevance of each team as the contenders will separate themselves as we reach the stretch run of the college football season.

But in the mean time, Herbstreit has heaped praise on Mel Tucker and the Spartans.

“I think Michigan State has been the biggest surprise in the country, not just in the Big Ten,” he said in a preview of the weekend. “To think about where they were in Mel Tucker’s first year. Keep in mind, like a lot of other first-year coaches in 2020 – it’s a global pandemic, heavy restrictions, no spring football, cancel the season, oh no, now we’re going to have a season, and it’s just unprecedented what he went through his first year. They looked like, obviously, a severe work in progress.”

Herbstreit also said Tucker took full advantage of the transfer portal, most notably with star running back Kenneth Walker.

“They’ve upgraded and taken advantage of the 2021 way of doing business, and now they’ve got a confident football team,” he said.