It's easy enough to imagine an alternative universe in which the Michigan State-Northwestern matchup is for a spot in the Big Ten title game.
A pass broken up here, a different call there - and maybe the Spartans and Wildcats would have a lot more to play for.
"We've got to find a way to coach our guys to make a couple more plays," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "We're close to being a champion. We're not there yet, but we're close."
When Michigan State hosts Northwestern on Saturday, pride and bowl position will be on the line and that's about it. The Wildcats lost to Michigan in overtime last weekend to fall two games out of first place in the Legends Division with two to play. The Spartans, meanwhile, are another game back after losing too many close ones during the Big Ten season.
Michigan State (5-5, 2-4 Big Ten) needs at least a split of its last two regular-season games to become bowl eligible - after starting the season with Rose Bowl aspirations. All six of the...