The Big Ten has a reputation for being a weaker conference, and they are not doing themselves any favors during this college football postseason. Their overall record in bowl games so far this season was 1-4, with the only win coming from the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Gator Bowl over the Georgia Bulldogs. The Spartans hoped to change that by getting a big win in the Rose Bowl and breaking the conference’s bowl losing streak this season, as well as their losing streak in the Rose Bowl.
It was not looking good early for the Spartans. Stanford came out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter before Michigan State came back with two touchdowns of its own, to go into halftime with just a 17-14 deficit. It started to look better for them in the second half, as they scored 10 unanswered points and held Stanford scoreless until they kicked a field goal late in the fourth quarter. It looked as if it was going to come down to the final possession to determine who would win this game. Stanford got the ball back with about three minutes left in the game and down by a score of just 24-20.
The Michigan State defense looked good even without Max Bullough, who was suspended from the Rose Bowl for a violation of team rules. They did very well stopping Stanford’s running game that includes explosive running back Tyler Gaffney, holding him to just 91 yards and a touchdown. The key defensive play came late in the fourth quarter on what could have been Stanford’s winning drive, but the Michigan State defense stopped them on the 34-yard line as they went for it on fourth and one. That stop sealed the win for the Spartans.
This Rose Bowl win is indeed a big one for both the Spartans and the Big Ten. It will help to boost the reputation of the conference in the postseason, especially in BCS bowl games. The Ohio State Buckeyes will look to boost the conference reputation even more with a win in the Orange Bowl over the Clemson Tigers on Friday night.
The Spartans can feel good knowing that their win could likely be a big turning point for the Big Ten and its reputation.