SAN JOSE -- San Jose State made its debut in the Bowl Championship Series standings that were released Sunday evening, checking in at No. 25.
The Spartans, fresh from a 52-43 win over Louisiana Tech on national television, were ranked as high as No. 17 on the six computer rankings that help calculate the BCS standings.
SJSU (10-2, 5-1 Western Athletic Conference) finished just outside the rankings in the two national polls. The Spartans are No. 26 in The Associated Press poll and No. 27 in the USA Today Coaches poll.
That didn't keep SJSU from making its first ever appearance in the BCS rankings, which began in 1998. It's the first time since 1990 the Spartans have been nationally ranked. They finished that season No. 20 in the now-defunct UPI poll.
"Not many teams will win 10 football games this year," SJSU coach Mike MacIntyre said after the game Saturday night. "And if we get the 11th, there won't be many teams with 11 wins. That puts us in a special category."
SJSU has received votes in the AP poll the past three weeks, the most ever for a Spartans team in regular-season play. It's received votes in the coaches poll during six weeks of this season, including the last two.
The 10 wins SJSU has this season are the most since 1987 and only the seventh time in school history it has won double-digit games. The Spartans are awaiting a bowl invitation in which they'll be after their 11th win, which would be the most in school history in 63 seasons as a major college football program.
"It's crazy," quarterback David Fales said. "You think of just all the teams and all the players that have come through here. We have the possibility to be one of the greatest teams, recordwise. It's amazing."
SJSU took down the defending conference champions by winning the second half at Spartan Stadium.
Louisiana Tech (9-3, 4-2) scored twice in the final two minutes of the first half and scored 17 straight to take a 30-24 lead.
But an effective running game and a record-tying performance from cornerback Bené Benwikere helped the Spartans to victory.
SJSU rushed for 164 of its season-high 243 in the second half and scored three touchdowns on the ground. De'Leon Eskridge rushed for a career-high 217 yards and three touchdowns, the last of which gave the Spartans a 45-37 lead with 13:50 to play.
That lead was set up and then protected by doing to Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron what hadn't been done for most of the season. The nation's second-leading passer wasn't intercepted in his first 444 passes until being picked off twice Nov. 17 against Utah State.
Benwikere picked off Cameron three times, all in the second half. The first set up Eskridge's final touchdown. The next two came with SJSU leading 52-43 and ended the Bulldogs' last two drives.
"All season we've heard that he hasn't thrown any interceptions until last week when he threw two," said Benwikere, who tied a school record with the three picks. "We were just waiting on him to make his mistakes. We were trying to go attack him."
Cameron finished with 463 passing yards and three touchdowns. But the Spartans approached the game knowing Louisiana Tech would make plays and focused on being ready to deliver when it mattered most.
"All the coaches, that's what they talked to us about," Benwikere said. " 'Don't get down whenever they make plays. Make sure you make the plays when it's most important.' "
Eskridge's big night put him on the verge of a milestone. He has 992 yards, positioning him to top the 1,000-yard mark in a bowl game. He would be SJSU's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2006, when Yonus Davis also topped the mark in a bowl game.
"That's honestly not a goal of mine," Eskridge said of 1,000 yards. "I definitely, being this close, want it. But if I came out and got seven yards in the bowl game and we still won, I'd be happy."
Fales completed 25 of 37 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns. He's up to third in the nation in passing efficiency and with 3,798 yards this season is position to become SJSU's first 4,000-yard passer.