Stakes high for OSU and MSU in Big Ten title game
Stakes will be high for No. 2 Ohio State and No. 10 Michigan
State in the Big Ten championship game – though there might be some
cool consolation prizes for the loser.
The Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) need a win to keep their
national title hopes alive and it would help if it was an
impressive victory to fend off a one-loss SEC champion in the BCS
standings. Even with a loss, the Buckeyes are well-positioned to
receive an at-large BCS bid.
But it is all about the Big Ten this week for the Buckeyes.
Coach Urban Meyer said Sunday during a teleconference with
reporters that he planned to spend no more than a few seconds
talking with his team about the BCS.
”Our focus is on this game and that’s it,” Meyer said. ”It’d
be a disservice to our players if I went and worried about it. We
have to move the ball against a great defense, and that’s my
The Spartans (11-1, 8-0) need a victory to guarantee a
desperately coveted spot in the Rose Bowl, where they haven’t
played since 1988. But if they lose, and Ohio State plays for the
national title, the Spartans could go to the Rose Bowl anyway.
”I don’t know,” said Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio when
asked about the possibility to losing the Big Ten and playing in
the Rose Bowl, ”I’m not thinking about losing.
”We’re going to look at the things we can control.”
The Leaders Division-champion Buckeyes, coming off a 42-41
victory against Michigan, have one of the top offenses in the
country, averaging 48.2 points a game to rank third in the country
and 530.5 yards to trail just five teams.
The Legends Division-champion Spartans are among best on
defense, giving up a nation-low 237.7 yards and 11.8 points per
game to rank fourth.
Soon after Ohio State stopped archrival Michigan on a 2-point
conversion Saturday with 32 seconds left to stay undefeated,
linebacker Ryan Shazier nailed a scouting report on Michigan
”They’re a really good team with a really good defense and an
offense that’s getting better,” the Butkus Award finalist said.
”I can’t wait to play them in Indianapolis.”
The Buckeyes have won 24 straight games, a program record and
the longest active streak in major college football.
”I feel very strongly about my team,” Meyer said Sunday. ”I
would take this team anywhere with me. A team that knows how to win
and refuses to lose is a special team and this is a very special
Ohio State also was 12-0 and won its division by two games last
year, but its season ended after the regular season because of NCAA
sanctions stemming from the tattoo scandal that rocked the program
and led to ex-coach Jim Tressel’s exit.
The Spartans have won eight games in a row since losing 17-14 at
Notre Dame to earn their second berth in the Big Ten title game in
three years. They blew their last opportunity to end the school’s
Rose Bowl drought.
In the inaugural conference championship game two years ago,
Michigan State’s Isaiah Lewis ran into Wisconsin punter Brad
Nortman to negate a return to the Badgers 3 and give them a first
down with 1:37 left in a 42-39 setback.
Lewis, now a senior, said he’s happy that happened during his
”You don’t even understand, the last time I was in
Indianapolis, I was heartbroken,” Lewis said Saturday after the
Spartans beat Minnesota 14-3. ”I was embarrassed to lose that
game. The way that I left that game – the play that happened – it
just left a bad taste in my mouth.
”I’m just ready to go back.”
When the Buckeyes go to the Big Ten title game for the first
time, they might not be at full strength.
Ohio State right guard Marcus Hall and kick returner Dontre
Wilson were ejected from Saturday’s game at Michigan Stadium for
throwing punches during a skirmish following a kickoff. Hall made
an obscene gesture toward the crowd as he walked off the field.
Meyer said he would not be suspending any players involved in
the fight for the Big Ten championship game and that any discipline
would be handled internally. The Big Ten could still weigh-in,
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