Next, the Crystal Ball Run staff looks over the Big Ten Championship Game, where Wisconsin and Michigan State will match up for the second time this season.
Will the second time be the charm for the Badgers? Let’s take a look.
Big Ten Championship Game:
No. 15 Wisconsin Badgers vs. No. 13 Michigan State Spartans: Saturday, 8:17 p.m. FOX (Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN)
Kevin McGuire’s Take: Both teams are playing well right now, but Wisconsin just seems to be playing like a team on a mission. They totally dismantled a Penn State defense that looked like a middle of the pack MAC team (they are far better than how they looked against Wisconsin) and if Wilson and Ball are able to have a field day once again, there are not many teams that will be able to stop them.
I think Michigan State is more than capable of winning this game, especially with a defense that has only allowed 15.4 points per game this season. I think their offense is gritty and capable of moving the football against Wisconsin. But if this comes down to one important offensive drive, I think there are plenty of tricks up Bret Bielema’s sleeves to find a way to get Wilson and Ball in to scoring position with a game on the line.
The Pick: Wisconsin 27, Michigan State 23
Regie Eller’s Take: Michigan State ruined any hopes Wisconsin had at a National Championship earlier this season. I doubt Bret Bielema has forgotten.
If given the chance, again to gain a yard with Montee Ball, I believe Bielema would choose that chance rather than laying up for a field goal. If you remember, needing that lone yard, disaster then came for the Badgers after Bielema decided to attempt a field goal - which was blocked - to go up 17-9.
Wisconsin is the better football team. With Ball and Russell Wilson, Wisconsin will have the two best players on the field.
Have lessons been learned? I believe so.
The Pick: Wisconsin 28, Michigan State 14
Tom Perry’s Take: How about that, another rematch.
Michigan State completed a Hail Mary to defeat Wisconsin in East Lansing, and now the two get to meet again in Indianapolis. The winner earns a berth in the Rose Bowl.
Despite losing that first match up, the odds makers like the Badgers in the second meeting of the season. I can see why.
Montee Ball has been a beast running the ball, and Russell Wilson still remains one of the more accurate passers in college football.
The Spartans won on emotion in the first game...this time talent wins.
The Pick: Wisconsin 31, Michigan State 21
Allen Kenney’s Take: I realize Michigan St. won already this year, but life adheres to probabilities.
Sparty is a solid team, but the Badgers are going to win this match-up more often than not. MSU just doesn't have the type of athleticism on the offensive side to make Wisconsin's lumpy defense pay. At least, not pay enough.
The Pick: Wisconsin 28, Michigan St. 20
Aaron Torres’ Take: As much as I like playing the role of contrarian, even I can’t do that here.
The truth is that the first times these two teams played, Wisconsin overcame Russell Wilson’s worst start in a Badgers uniform, an injury to Montee Ball, and were still one play away from forcing overtime, in East Lansing.
On a neutral field, with a bunch of their fans (as well as plenty of well-compensated seat fillers) in the house, they’ll exact revenge.
Michigan State is a good team, but Wisconsin is simply better.
The Pick: Wisconsin 34, Michigan State 24
Michael Felder’s Take: We've got a rematch folks. A. Rematch. Wisconsin and Michigan State playing for the right to go to the Rose Bowl. Big stakes and as the BCS birth looms large the fact is this game is about so much more than that. In fact I'd go so far as to say the Rose Bowl is nothing more than a prize for this grudge match. Wisconsin saw their BCS title hope dashed by the Spartans. Wisconsin saw their hype train derailed by Narduzzi's defensive wizardry as the run game and passing attack were stymied.
Look for Wisconsin to stick to their guns as they did last game, the difference being All Russell Wilson Everything won't be flustered by the blitz from everywhere attack of Sparty. The Badgers won't have to rebound this time and because of the strength of Montee Ball this Wisconsin team is still my pick. Oh and it must be noted the game isn't in East Lansing.
Wisconsin 31 Michigan State 27
Follow the guys of Crystal Ball Run on Twitter @CrystalBallRun.
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