If you’re a Spartan, you’re probably still recovering from what was a difficult weekend, at best, in college football.
The heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin, followed by neglect from the BCS during Sunday’s selection show has Michigan State fans stunned and on the verge of depression heading into bowl season.
Instead of playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1989 and proving the progress of the program, as hoped, the Spartans have been sentenced to another trip to Florida. In the last four years Michigan State has appeared in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando twice and the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando once. Obviously they were hoping to play outside of the sunshine state, namely California, for a change and a better bowl.
But even though the Spartans just missed a trip to the Rose Bowl, it would seem likely for the squad that won their division and finished as the second best team in the Big Ten, to make a strong case for BCS candidacy.
The BCS apparently didn’t think so.
On Sunday, the BCS announced that No. 13 Michigan and No. 11 Virginia Tech would meet in the BCS Allstate Sugar Bowl.
After his team’s loss in the Big Ten Championship game, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio reiterated his belief that the two best teams in the Big Ten played in the championship game. While he wouldn’t say anything outright about the BCS and where he felt like his team should end up, Dantonio simply left press conference saying that Michigan State had made a strong case.
(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
No discredit to Michigan, and their representing the Big Ten in a BCS bowl game, but it seems odd that any team would be punished for making it to their conference championship game but not winning. I have to believe that if LSU would have lost to Georgia in the SEC championship, that LSU still would have been selected, or at least strongly considered, for the national championship.
I realize that Michigan State earned itself an extra game in addition to the regular season, and that Michigan didn’t have to play another game. But the fact that MSU beat Michigan head to head earlier in the season and that Michigan didn’t have Wisconsin or Penn State on their schedule makes it hard to believe that they were the best selection from the Big Ten for this game. The Wolverines do boast a better record at 10-2 than the Spartans at 10-3 after the conference championship, but can records attest to the fact that Michigan State played extremely well against the team that was predicted to embarrass them on Saturday? Or can it show that State won convincingly over the maize and blue in their meeting this season?
Sometimes, in situations like this one, records have to be put to the side or at least be given less weight in making a decision. If the selection committee for the Allstate Sugar Bowl would have done that, it seems reasonable to think that Michigan State would have gotten the call instead of their in-state brethren.
The reality, however, is that Michigan State is playing in the Outback Bowl – something that no amount of arguing can change.
As Dantonio has preached all year: the only thing that this team can do is look ahead.
Georgia is what lies ahead now, and Michigan State is surely already preparing for the Bulldogs who beat them 24-12 in the 2009 Capital One Bowl.
If the Spartans want to finish with a positive outlook on the year, the best they can do, as is usually the case, is win.
While Michigan State has earned trips to New Year’s Day bowl games in two out of three years and now five consecutive bowls, the Spartans have failed to win in any of those games.
For future bowl selections, MSU needs this game to help their credibility as an elite team in the nation.
Michigan may not currently be seeing the success they’re used to, but because of their acceptance as one of the best football programs in the country, they still find favor in the eyes of the BCS.
It’s hard to accept the fact that the Spartans won’t be playing in the Rose Bowl this year, especially after coming within two minutes of making that dream come true. But what can any green and white fan do except continue to support their team through this game and the next?
They may not be making the trip to Pasadena next month, but you can be sure that Michigan State has roses in its future.
Until then, there’s an Outback Bowl to be won.
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