The Michigan State Spartans clinched the Big Ten Legends division title with their 30-6 win over the Northwestern Wildcats yesterday, but there is still a lot of work for the Spartans to get done if they want to play in one of the five BCS bowls come January. The possibilities are varied, but ultimately it comes down to execution on Michigan State’s part.
The quest for a BCS spot continues with this Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers to end the regular season. While the game is meaningless as far as the Spartans’ spot in the Big Ten Championship Game goes, it could have serious BCS implications. Michigan State taking a second loss at home to a soon-to-be un-ranked Minnesota team could do major harm to the Spartans’ resume for a BCS at-large bid.
If Michigan State can take care of business this Saturday and head into the Big Ten Championship Game at 11-1, then that game in Indianapolis for a Big Ten title could simply be the difference between which BCS bowl game the Spartans will play in. Naturally, defeating Ohio State would give Michigan State the Big Ten’s automatic bid and send the Spartans to the Rose Bowl. Even if the Buckeyes prevail, however, all is not lost for Michigan State.
The 11-1 overall and 8-0 in-conference record, paired with a close loss to Ohio State, would probably be enough to give the Spartans an at-large bid. Michigan State has a track record of traveling well, and bowl games are business ventures first. If the Spartans get blown out by the Buckeyes, that may raise more questions about whether or not Michigan State deserves a BCS at-large bid or not.
Another thing that could determine whether or not the Spartans get an at-large BCS bid will be the play of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the only team to defeat Michigan State so far this season. The Irish currently sit at 8-3 and have a road game at Stanford to finish the season. If Notre Dame could pull off that win, it would make the Spartans’ defeat less harmful in both the human polls and increase Michigan State’s strength-of-schedule in the computers.
A spot in a BCS bowl is a realistic goal for the Spartans. While there are some other factors that could play in, most of what will decide whether or not they get one of those spots is in their own hands.