Nobody is giving the Spartans a chance in the first-ever Big Ten Championship game. Ok, one guy is… Chris Martin of the Big Ten Network. Outside of Mr. Martin, everybody is talking about the beat down Bucky is going to give the Spartans.
Phrases like “Michigan State doesn’t stand a chance” and “their win at home earlier in the season was a fluke” should serve as bulletin board material. It is total lack of respect.
Adding further to the drama is the BCS bowl picture. Every Walmart Wolverine is salivating at the idea of a Spartan loss so that their ‘winged helmet weasels’ can accept an invite to the Sugar Bowl.
The thought of it is almost more than I can stomach. A Florida bowl game would be nice, but it is kind of like getting a kiss from the homecoming queen on the cheek. It just ain’t good enough for these Spartans. They deserve the Rose Bowl.
Last year, MSU got the shaft. We belonged in the Rose Bowl. We beat Wisconsin head to head and that ugly BCS equation sent us to Orlando to play the best team in the nation when their starters were healthy.
Saban’s starters were ready to go and they took their Citrus Bowl consolation prize and drove it right through our bronze Spartan armor. They then proceeded to bull doze both our offensive and defensive lines in rout to a 49-7 victory. MSU needs to win this game Saturday. It is the biggest game of the Mark Dantonio era.
I want to point a couple things out to the casual fan regarding this Spartan / Wiscy matchup. I haven’t heard anyone else say this, but here is goes. MSU is better in three of the four phases of a football game. The four phases are:
1) Offense: The Badgers clearly have the better offense. The combination of Montee Ball and Russell Wilson with that mammoth offensive line gives Wisconsin the edge. MSU’s offense has improved greatly since we last played them. Cousins is playing a lot better than he did earlier in the year. K-Mart is making big plays every time he touches the ball.
2) Defense: The Badgers defense is stout, but they are not as versatile or as athletic as Michigan State. MSU’s defense is elite. It is the best defense in the Big Ten Conference and one of the three best in the country. In the last meeting, MSU’s defense was on the field too long and got worn down. They gave up two late touchdowns giving Wisconsin life before the ‘Hail Mary’ snatched it away. The referees forgot that holding was a penalty and let Wisconsin’s O-line do as they pleased. A better officiated game with a watchful eye on the Badger line will result in a ton of penalties if the zebras can find their whistles. Wisconsin’s O-line didn’t face Will Gholston either. They will on Saturday.
3) Special Teams: This one is a no-brainer. MSU wins a game every year because of special teams and Wisconsin loses one because of special teams. The MSU win by way of a terrific special teams play is usually against Wisconsin. So it is fair to say that special teams usually costs Bucky the game against Sparty. Practice special teams all you want Bucky. We are coming for you again. Here are two links to support my argument.
This year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeJfHZW0eFk
Last year: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRQ82s4YHJM
4) Coaching: I like Brett Bielema. I think he has done a tremendous job picking up where Barry Alvarez left off. Wisconsin recruits well. They play a brutal style of offense that controls the line of scrimmage and the clock. They play disciplined and they play hard for 59 minutes and 56 seconds a game. You have to play all 60 minutes Brett.
Dantonio and company are better coaches. This is the biggest intangible in this game Saturday. I expect the MSU staff to find something within the special teams game that exploits Wisconsin for another big play / momentum changer that results in a score. The Badgers are more talented top to bottom, but the Bielema / Dantonio factor will result in a Spartan win and a Rose Bowl berth.