East Lansing – “60 minutes to the Rose Bowl” was the word in the MSU locker room after MSU defeated Northwestern 31-17.  Last season Wisconsin edged out MSU for the Big Ten’s Rose Bowl berth.  This year in the first ever Big Ten Conference title game  Michigan State will earn their way to Pasadena if they can beat Bucky for the third straight time, this time in the neutral site of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. 

“P4RB or Prepare for the Rose Bowl” has been the motto of this team since summer.   Mark Dantonio said, “that is where we are going.  We will take the next step.  It’ll be a great challenge next week….but we’re in the hunt.” 

Senior QB Kirk Cousins who threw two TD passes to BJ Cunningham which pushed him past Jeff Smoker as MSU’s all-time career TD passer said “The coming week is the most important week of our careers because of all we’ve accomplished to this point, we’ve put ourselves in that position.  We’re 60 minutes from the Rose Bowl…To think that with a great week of preparation and a great game on Saturday we can be there is surreal.”

Michigan State (10-2) tuned up for the Championship game with a victory in the rain at Northwestern.   For MSU the win gives them outright possession of the Legends division trophy and ten wins for the second straight season.  

Since coming to MSU as head coach in 2007 Mark Dantonio has stressed the importance of the team playing their best football in the month of November.  The last two seasons MSU is undefeated (7-0) in November games.  Since Dantonio came to MSU the Spartans are 12-4 in November games, in the four seasons (2003-06) before Dantonio MSU was just 2-11 (15.4%) in November games. 

MSU defeated then  unbeaten and ranked #4 Wisconsin 37-31 on Keith Nichol’s miracle last second TD catch back on October 22 in Spartan Stadium.   In 2010 MSU defeated #11 ranked Bucky also in Spartan Stadium   34-24 led by a 74 yard punt return TD from Keshawn Martin.   In the game earlier this year, DE Will Gholston did not play after being forced to the sidelines by the Big Ten after “rough play” in the Michigan game.

Las Vegas has established the Badgers as a 9.5 point favorite with most national pundits believing the revenge or pay-back factor will play in Bucky’s favor.  Led by sure to be Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year RB Montee Ball who has scored 34 touchdowns just five short of Barry Sander’s NCAA season record of 39, and dual threat QB Russell Wilson the Badgers earned style points with their 45-7 rout over Penn State to win the Leader’s Division berth in the title game.  

The BCS rankings have MSU at #13 with Wisconsin at #15.  The MSU seniors and Coach Mark Dantonio have their own “pay-back” in mind for the Badgers taking their Rose Bowl spot last year.  The Badgers went to the Rose Bowl and lost to TCU last year, Michigan State hasn’t been to Pasadena since the 1987 season.  A full generation gap of 24 years since MSU last played in the Rose Bowl should serve as plenty of motivation to overcome any “revenge” factor advantage for Wisconsin.

The inaugural Big Ten Football Championship Game will begin at 8:17 p.m. EST on Saturday, December 3, and will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. FOX will serve as the official broadcast partner of the Big Ten Football Championship Games from 2011-16 and Lucas Oil Stadium will host the title games from 2011-15.   MSU has sold its allotment of tickets and the game is a sell-out.  

               

Legends Division  

Michigan State 7-1 .875  10-2 .833                          

Michigan                  6-2  .750     10-2 .833

Nebraska                 5-3 .625        9-3 .750

Iowa                         4-4 .500        7-5 .583

Northwestern           3-5 .375        6-6 .500

Minnesota                2-6 .250        3-9 .250

 

Leaders Division

Wisconsin       6-2 .750   10-2  .833

Penn State      6-2 .750     9-3  .750

Purdue            4-4 .500     6-6  .500

Ohio State       3-5 .375     6-6  .500 

Illinois              2-6 .250     6-6  .500

Indiana            0-8 .000   1-11  .083

 

KIRK COUSINS WATCH:

GAMES WON AS THE STARTING QB:  (#1)

Cousin’s 26-11 record as a starter (70.3%) broke Jeff Smoker’s record of 21 career victories as the starting quarterback.   

 

PASS COMPLETIONS:  (#2)

674 trail Jeff Smoker who is #1 at 685, and past Drew Stanton who is now #3 at 543.

 

`PASSING YARDS:  (#2)

With 8,550 total yards Cousins trails Jeff Smoker who is #1 with 8,932 yards.

 

TOUCHDOWN PASSES:  (#1)

With 62 Cousins passed Jeff Smoker who was #1 with 61.

 

WR B. J. CUNNINGHAM WATCH

Saturday B. J. moved up the charts in the MSU All Time career record book.

CAREER RECEPTIONS:  (#1)

B.J. CUNNINGHAM has 206 catches;  Matt Trannon (2003-06) is #2 with 148.

 

CAREER RECEIVING YARDS:  (#2)

B.J. has 2,905 yards passing Charles Rogers (2001-02) 2,821 yards for #2 on the MSU All-Time list.  Andre Rison (1985-88) is #1 all-time with 2,992 yards.

CAREER TOUCHDOWN RECEPTIONS: (#3)

With 22 career TD catches Cunningham past Plaxico Burress (98-99) and Andre Rison (85-88) both who had 20 TD catches for #3 on the MSU carrer list.   Kirk Gibson (75-78) at 24 is #2, and Charles Rogers is a top the career list with 27 TD catches.