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Spartans may get shorted again/Paul Peterson

November 30, 2011
By Paul Peterson - For the Gazette , The Daily Mining Gazette

Michigan State has won as many football games as any team in the Big Ten over the past two seasons.

And they've defeated conference darling Wisconsin twice in that span in dramatic fashion.

Yet, if you believe those people who spend all their lives figuring out these kind of things, the Spartans could very well end up in the Arizona desert or the west coast of Florida in a minor bowl game.

How could that be, you're probably asking?

Should 10-2 MSU lose to Wisconsin in the first conference playoff game this weekend in Indianapolis, they will not qualify for the Rose Bowl. That bid automatically goes to the Badgers.

But an MSU loss could drop it all the way to either the Outback Bowl, or perish the thought, the Insight Bowl.

Under rules of the past 50 years or so, Michigan State would have been the conference choice to go to Pasadena to face the "Quack Attack" of the Oregon Ducks. Certainly not an enviable task but still a nice way to spend the holidays.

But the league - in the never-ending quest for dollars - decided a playoff game should be played for the biggest plum of all. And the Pac-12 is also doing the same thing for the first time in its history for the very same reason.

The loser of the Big 10 conference championship game should at least earn a trip to the Sugar Bowl, which is a BCS game. Right?

Wrong again. It's been more or less decided that Michigan, which had a nice year under first-year coach Brady Hoke, will likely go to New Orleans to face Houston and its record-setting passing attack.

Forget that coach Mark Dantonio's Spartans decisively defeated Michigan in the regular season for the fourth straight year.

The Wolverines, who finished behind MSU in the Legends Division of the league, have all that tradition ... the kind of tradition that brings a large following of fans to any venue.

The Spartans inexplicably lost two games to Notre Dame and Nebraska this season. The Fighting Irish and Cornhuskers are also storied programs and they will also receive nice bowl assignments.

Of course, MSU can end all of this suspense by defeating a heavily favored Wisconsin this weekend.

If they don't, their fans had better start checking out flights to Tampa for the Outback Bowl or Tempe, Ariz. for the Insight Bowl.

Here's a novel idea, but one that will never happen. Have MSU and Michigan meet in the Sugar Bowl. Send a vastly overrated Houston team to the Outback Bowl.

After all, the return engagement of LSU and Alabama is all but assured for this year's national title.

I think a rematch of MSU and UM would be an instant classic.



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