2010 Michigan State Spartans Football
Michigan State Spartans @ Penn State Nittany Lions Football Preview
Yes, a team will wake up on Saturday morning knowing that its fate is not only out of its hands, but that it is sealed as well. Yet, an overachieving team will still have a lot to play for against one of college football’s best brand names.
The 10th-ranked Michigan State Spartans can at least tie for the Big Ten championship for the first time since 1990 with a win over the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday at Beaver Stadium in Happy Valley. Michigan State is tied with Wisconsin and Ohio State at 6-1 in the Big Ten, but the sad part about that reality is that the Big Ten has used BCS standings, not the more sensible round-robin head-to-head records, to decide the tie. Michigan State enters the weekend two spots behind Ohio State and three behind Wisconsin. A successful day against Penn State will probably leave the Spartans at the altar without a marriage to a BCS bowl. Ohio State and Wisconsin – with relatively easy games on Saturday – should march to the BCS bowl realm without too much difficulty.
It’s lamentable, though: Michigan State is the only team among the three to have avoided a head-to-head loss. Coach Mark Dantonio’s Spartans beat Wisconsin and did not play Ohio State. Wisconsin beat Ohio State, but the Badgers still have a 1-1 record in three-way competition with OSU and Sparty. Ohio State lost to Wisconsin and did not play Michigan State, which means that the Buckeyes have the smallest and least convincing claim to a BCS bowl. Yet, the Ohio State brand name will surely win out and lead Jim Tressel’s team to a sexy showcase, all while Michigan State settles for the Capital One Bowl for the second time in three seasons.
Yet, as mentioned above, there’s still something to play for in the MSU locker room: With a win, Michigan State would have 11 victories for the first time ever. That’s pretty special.
Last week, Michigan State needed a fourth-quarter comeback to foil an upset by Purdue. The Spartans outscored the Boilermakers 22-3 in the fourth, and scored two touchdowns in the final 6:54 to win 35-31. Kirk Cousins, playing with minor shoulder and ankle injuries, completed 28 of 37 pass attempts for 276 yards and three touchdowns.
Penn State beat Indiana 41-24 in Landover, Maryland, last week, in a home game that Indiana gave up so that the Hoosiers could receive a cash payment. Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns to power the Lions. The score was tied 24-24 in the third quarter when James Van Fleet returned a blocked punt for a touchdown to put Penn State ahead for good. Evan Royster and Silas Redd both ran for touchdowns as well.
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McGloin has now thrown for 1025 yards and 11 touchdowns, with just three interceptions. Royster, for his part, needs 169 yards to become the first Penn State running back with three 1,000-yard seasons. It’s going to be hard to do that against MSU linebacker Greg Jones, but with a few big runs here and there, the veteran could cap his regular season in style. What’s more is that Michigan State hasn’t beaten Penn State in seven previous matchups at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania. Adding to the potential burden facing Sparty in this contest, Penn State has won four of its last five games. Two seasons ago, the Lions trounced the Spartans 49-18 at Beaver Stadium to deny Michigan State a share of the Big Ten title.
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