Michigan State Vs. Penn State: Spartans Win, Clinch Share Of Big Ten Title

Big Ten conference picks are in; will someone be playing spoiler this weekend, or will there be a three-way tie at the top for the conference's automatic BCS bid?

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Michigan State Vs. Penn State: Spartans Win Share Of Big Ten Title

Michigan State won 28-22 against Penn State Saturday afternoon in a game that the Spartans controlled through three quarters, although the Nittany Lions did manage to stage a comeback attempt at the end. Thanks to a touchdown run by Edwin Baker and an eight-yard TD pass from Kirk Cousins to B.J. Cunningham, the Spartans led 14-3 at halftime, and they extended their lead when Cousins and Cunningham connected again in the third quarter. The final score ended up being close because Penn State scored three times in the fourth quarter on two touchdown passes by Matt McGloin and a ten-yard run by Evan Royster. McGloin racked up 312 yards in the loss.

The Spartans picked up a share of the Big Ten title with the win. Ohio State whipped Michigan 37-7 on Saturday, and Wisconsin has a huge lead on Northwestern at this writing, so it appears all three teams will finish with the same records. The BCS standings will break the tie, and Michigan State currently trails OSU and Wisconsin.

Penn State finishes its regular season 7-5 and still appears likely to head to the Gator Bowl.


Michigan State Vs. Penn State, College Football Rankings: Are The Spartans Really A Top-Ten Team?

Penn State’s next opponents, the Michigan State Spartans, currently rank around No. 10 or No. 11 in most polls. But are the Spartans really that good?

The dirty little secret in college football is that we never really know. A dozen games each year, typically including several easy ones, is never much of a sample size. Michigan State’s 10-1 record so far includes easy games against Western Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Northern Colorado and Minnesota. After that, the Spartans needed overtime to take down unranked Notre Dame, and needed to stage comebacks against Northwestern and lowly Purdue. They also got blown out badly at Iowa.

That leaves wins against Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan. Beating the fifth-ranked Badgers was indeed a feat, but that’s the only win the Spartans have against a team that is currently ranked.

Michigan State wasn’t a highly-regarded team entering the season. The Spartans didn’t figure prominently in the Week 1 BlogPoll top 25, or Week 2, or Week 3.

So what changed? Well, they won a lot of games, and that got them into the top half of the top 25. That’s the way it should be, of course, but the blowout loss and the number of comeback wins and close wins suggests that the Spartans are vulnerable against Penn State, especially in Happy Valley.


Michigan State Vs. Penn State: Week 13 Big Ten College Football Schedule

Although some of this week’s Big Ten matchups aren’t particularly exciting, Penn State fans will want to keep their eyes on the ticker just in case anything strange happens – the Nittany Lions look like they could be headed to the Gator Bowl, but much could happen this week to change that. Here’s a look at this week’s Big Ten schedule. All the games are on Saturday, and all the times are Eastern.

12:00 Indiana at Purdue, Big Ten Network. You can safely ignore this one – these two teams are playing for pride (and for Indiana head coach to keep his job).

12:00 Michigan at Ohio State, ABC.

12:00 Michigan State at Penn State, ESPN2. This game is critical, for obvious reasons – a big win against a ranked team to end the season would be huge for the Nittany Lions.

3:30 Iowa at Minnesota, Big Ten Network. An Iowa loss would be terrific for Penn State, since it could win the Nittany Lions entrance into a better bowl, but a Golden Gophers win looks extremely unlikely.

3:30 Northwestern at Wisconsin, ABC.

10:15 Illinois at Fresno State, ESPN2. This game would only really matter if Penn State loses, and possibly not even then, since a bowl committee could easily choose the 4-4 Nittany Lions over the 4-4 Illini even though Illinois holds a tie-breaker against Penn State.


Michigan State Vs. Penn State: Gator Bowl Interested In Nittany Lions

As the 2010 season winds down, bowl game officials are looking at teams that might be traveling to their cities come late December and early January. In fact, officials from the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Rose Bowl will all be at at Beaver Stadium on Saturday for Penn State's game with Michigan State, presumably to scout out the Spartans for a possible appearance in one of those BCS bowls.

The Outback Bowl will also be sending officials, too,  however, presumably to take a look at Penn State. If the Nittany Lions win on Saturday, they could be headed to Tampa as they did when they finished 8-4 in 2006. Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett hopes that doesn't happen, though.

"Obviously, we'd be tickled to death to have Penn State and coach Paterno here, but there are a few other bowls that pick in front of us," Catlett said. "We've heard all the Penn State-Florida speculation. We'd be OK with that. Sign us up.

After what has been a tough season at times, a New Year's Day shot at Florida would certainly please a lot of Penn State fans. Win or lose on Saturday, it looks like they'll get it. With Catlett so enamored by Penn State, it's hard to imagine Penn State will drop into a late-December game regardless of the outcome against Sparty.


Week 13 College Football Picks: Michigan State Only A Slight Favorite Against Nittany Lions

ESPN.com’s picks for the Big Ten games this weekend match ours, which isn’t much a surprise, since there aren’t any games that don’t have a clear choice. None of the ranked teams play each other. Here are ESPN’s comments on the Penn State matchup, which a lot of people seem to think will be a close game:

Michigan State 28, Penn State 24: I’m buying in, Spartans fans. This is your year. Kirk Cousins is banged up and the Spartans haven’t won in Happy Valley since the year before Paterno became Penn State head coach, but they get it done this year. Penn State lacks the pass rush to truly rattle Cousins, who will attack the Lions secondary with receivers Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham. Michigan State rallies for the win and claims its first league title since 1990.

Meanwhile, two of CBS’s five pickers actually take Penn State. And SB Nation’s OddsShark has the Spartans as only a two-point favorite. Maybe the experts have a point – Michigan State has only beaten one ranked team (Wisconsin), and it got blown out by Iowa. Penn State does represent a test.


Michigan State Vs. Penn State: Eleven Seniors To Play Last Game For Nittany Lions

Saturday marks the final game in the collegiate careers of eleven Nittany Lions, including some very familiar names. The Pride of Bridgeville, Stefan Wisniewski, will lead the offensive line for the last time in Beaver Stadium, putting an end to a great career, one that will surely continue in the NFL.

In addition, all-time leading Penn State rusher Evan Royster, who eschewed the draft last year to come back for his senior season, will end a record-setting career Saturday against Michigan State. Royster passed Curt Warner earlier this season as the Nittany Lion with the most career rushing yards.

The best of the rest to be honored this Senior Day:

Wisniewski is one of 11 Penn State seniors scheduled to be recognized in pregame ceremonies, including offensive linemen Doug Klopacz and Lou Eliades, running back Evan Royster, wide receivers Brett Brackett and Graham Zug, defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu, linebackers Chris Colasanti and Bani Gbadyu, cornerback Shelton McCullough and kicker Collin Wagner.

While the Penn State faithful will certainly be sad to see these players go, the upside is that none of them leave any major holes on the team that can't quickly and at least adequately be filled.

Good luck with the rest of your careers, seniors!


Michigan State Vs. Penn State: Week 13 Big Ten College Football Picks

The final week of the Big Ten season has arrived, and there couldn't be more at stake this weekend. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State all enter the weekend with one conference loss. The scenarios play out as follows:

  • If all three win out, Wisconsin gets the conference's automatic BCS bid because of their higher BCS ranking at the end of the season (unless, by some unbelievable stretch of the imagination, Ohio State jumps the Badgers).
  • If Wisconsin and Ohio State win, Wisconsin gets the bid since the Badgers beat the Buckeyes head-to-head.
  • If Wisconsin and Michigan State win, Michigan State will get the bid since the Spartans beat the Badgers head-to-head.
  • If Ohio State and Michigan State win, since the two teams did not meet in the regular season, the BCS tiebreaker is used, and Ohio State would most likely get the automatic bid.

However, things get interesting when one considers the new Rose Bowl rules.

Starting with the 2011 Rose Bowl and extending until the 2014 edition of the granddaddy of them all, the first time the Rose Bowl loses one of its traditional hosts (Big Ten or Pac-10 Champion) to the BCS National Championship Game, and a non-BCS team automatically qualifies for the BCS, that non-BCS team will be selected by the Rose Bowl.

Since Oregon is currently on pace to play for the national championship, and since both Boise State and TCU qualify under the above rule, there is a possibility that the Big Ten automatic bid will not play against a Pac 10 opponent. Only one non-AQ team can automatically qualify, though, so if the season were to end today, Wisconsin would be playing TCU in the Rose Bowl.

Finally, since the Big Ten has three teams in the Top Ten of the BCS rankings, there is a very good chance that the conference will have two teams playing in BCS bowls.That means that Penn State, Northwestern, and Michigan all get to play the role of spoiler on Saturday. Will that happen? Let's look at the games.

Michigan at Ohio State. Ohio State has the easiest path to finishing with one loss, as only the Michigan Wolverines stand in the way. Normally, "The Game" carries much more weight, but three years of Rich Rodriguez have set the Wolverines back quite a bit. Their defense is abysmal, something the Buckeyes can easily exploit with their offensive firepower. Ohio State 44, Michigan 28

Indiana at Purdue. Neither of these teams will be playing in a bowl game, neither having a chance to make it to the requisite six wins. Each has four wins on the season, but none of Indiana's have come in-conference. Hoosier head coach Bill Lynch will be on the hot seat at the end of the season regardless, but a winless conference record could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Purdue wins based solely on its homefield advantage. Purdue 8, Indiana 5

Michigan State at Penn State. Penn State has been dominant in this series over the past decade, holding the same hex over Michigan State that Iowa seems to have over Penn State. Still, this Michigan State team will be tough to beat, even in the friendly confines of Beaver Stadium. Controlled optimism says Penn State keeps it close for some of the game, but reality might not be as kind to the Nittany Lions. Michigan State 31, Penn State 21

Iowa at Minnesota. If Michigan's defense has been abysmal this year, Minnesota's entire 2010 season has been equally horrid. With only two wins (one of which was a seven-point victory over an FCS team), the Golden Gophers fired their head coach in the middle of the season and have essentially written off the rest of this year. Look for Iowa to win big at TCF Bank Stadium. Iowa 39, Minnesota 13

Northwestern at Wisconsin. This would have been a lot closer of a game with a healthy Dan Persa leading the way for Northwestern, but a ruptured Achilles tendon will keep Persa out of this game. Wisconsin's vaunted running attack will prove to be too much for the Wildcats, and the Big Ten will end its regular season with a three-way tie for the conference lead. Wisconsin 51, Northwestern 23

Final Conference Standings (ranked by bowl selection eligibility)

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Ohio State
  3. Michigan State
  4. Iowa
  5. Illinois
  6. Penn State
  7. Northwestern
  8. Michigan
  9. Purdue
  10. Minnesota
  11. Indiana
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