The first-ever B1G 10 Conference Championship will feature the Legends Division Champion No. 11 Michigan State (10-2) against the Leaders Division Champion No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2). It will be a national broadcast at 7:00 p.m. local time from Indianapolis.
The last time these two teams matched-up in East Lansing, the Badgers were unbeaten and rolling toward the top of the BCS rankings. Michigan State had one tough loss coming into the game, and took full advantage of every Wisconsin mistake during the Saturday night showdown.
Sparty capitalized off a blocked punt, blocked field goal, two Russell Wilson interceptions, a safety and then it took a Hail Mary to win it on the final play. Not to mention, Michigan State uncharacteristically did not commit a single penalty in the game. Meanwhile, Wisconsin fittingly played undisciplined all evening, which was unusual for the least penalized team in the nation the past two years. I also like to mention that the Badgers oddly had to travel to East Lansing two straight years because of Nebraska’s entrance to the conference this past summer, causing a glitch in the B1G 10 scheduling.
Saturday, these two teams will meet once again in the most highly-anticipated B1G 10 game of the year. I believe, like most, the Badgers will dominate the Spartans this time around in Indianapolis. Russell Wilson will not throw two interceptions to the MSU defense. Wilson had one pick on the season entering the last contest between the two teams. Montae Ball is making his case for the Heisman and the Badgers offense is really clicking right now, as you have seen the past few weekends.
Michigan State will have to come up with some more lucky brakes once again to stay in this game. I respect their team. Their defense was obviously highly overrated most of the season, but they are above average. I like the offense, but I don’t like the quarterback who is running it. They have good receivers and an average running game. They do nothing great, but do everything well enough.
Wisconsin runs the ball better than any team in the country. The Badgers are going to run the ball down MSU’s throats time and again. Wisconsin found themselves behind last game with Sparty, thus going to a full-time passing attack. That will not happen again, unless….Bret Bielema.
The Badgers head coach is the only setback for the team heading into Saturday’s game. Bielema is not a big-time game manager. He folds under pressure in most circumstances. His players have to bail him out at times, to win despite him.
Bielema tried to get cute last year in the Rose Bowl against TCU, when he tried to transform the Badgers to a passing team in the biggest game of their season. The No. 1 ranked rush offense was trying to pass on TCU’s difficult defense and was failing miserably. The genius coach finally started to run the ball in the fourth quarter when the Badgers rolled down the field on the final drive, without throwing one pass. After scoring on a John Clay rushing touchdown, the Badgers went for the two-point conversion against an obviously exhausted TCU defense. Instead of cramming it down there throat once again, Bielema called a pass and TCU called it their first Rose Bowl in school history. If Bielema makes his presence known in this game Saturday, Sparty may just have a chance at the B1G 10 Conference Title.
The Badgers are the better team, no matter the ranking. They are seeking their fourth Rose Bowl appearance since the 1999 season. I don’t see Wisconsin being careless with the ball this time and the neutral site will definitely even the playing field. Kirk Cousins needs to play over his head in this game against an improved Badger defense. Wisconsin beat Penn State last week 45-17 and that was close for Badger standards over the past month. MSU needs to score, and score a lot to keep it close. I see Wisconsin running them out of Indiana, but we’ll all see Saturday.