Michigan State scratches way back to Indianapolis to face Buckeyes
One team involved in Saturday s Big Ten title game has experienced the conference s burgeoning finale.
The team doesn t wear scarlet and gray or enter the festive weekend second in the BCS standings.
After barreling toward its second Legends Division title in the last three years, the Spartans are returning to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, site of the most thrilling and deflating game in Coac rolex watches h Mark Dantonio s 10 year tenure.
Wisconsin outlasted Michigan State, 42 39, in overtime in the 2011 championship. The game marked the Big Ten s debut in the glitzy, and profitable, title game business.
A 6 6 regular season kept Ohio State away from the inaugural game. The Buckeyes missed the 2012 game, also won by Wisconsin, because of NCAA sanctions stemming from players exchanging memorabilia for cash and tattoos.
Michigan State missed last year s game for frustrating reasons, dropping five conference games by a combined 13 points. Nebraska received the Legends Division s spot in the game.
As Wisconsin tossed Nebraska around like Cornhole bags, Ohio State reveled in a 12 0 regular season. The Buckeyes (12 0, 8 0 Big Ten) duplicated the feat this season while Michigan State (11 1, 8 0) won all eight of its conference games by double digits. Neither side has spent this week reveling in anything.
Ohio State has a 24 game winning streak. Michigan State owns Big Ten title game experience.
Advantage Michigan State, said one key Spartan.
It s a huge game, senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard said. We both have all of our goals in front of us. I think the advantage for us is that we have already played at Lucas Oil before. We have all been there. We all have the experience of playing in the stadium and how loud it is. We also know the guys that have been there know how it is walking off that field. When we get back there, we are not going to walk down with our head down.
The Spartans haven t experience a sinking feeling since falling to Notre Dame, 17 13, on Sept. 21. Conference title games are serious business at Michigan State, where the coaching staff uses days like Saturday as recruiting tools.
It s a game we want to be in, something we talked about months ago at camp, senior linebacker Max Bullough said. It s a spotlight. It s the reason we came to Michigan State, to play in game like this.
Still, big games aren t the only motivator for many key pieces on Michigan State s roster.
Dantonio, a Zanesville native, has used hidden talent from his home state to build a championship caliber program. Twenty six Ohio players, including eight probable starters, comprise a large portio rolex watches n of the 2013 Spartans.
Many of those players weren t offered scholarships or even recruited by Ohio St rolex watches ate.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook, who attended Walsh Jesuit High School, wasn t pursued by Ohio State because Jim Tressel s staff used its vast resources to pursue Huber Heights Wayne star Braxton Miller. Miller signed with the Buckeyes in 2011. Cook signed with Michigan State the same year, selecting the Spartans during the spring before his senior year at Walsh Jesuit.
Cook said he realized early in the recruiting process why the Buckeyes didn t seriously pursue him. Other Ohio bred Spartans aren t as understanding, which adds zing to Saturday s game.
It s just big because some of the Ohio guys who come to Michigan State weren t recruited by Ohio State, Cook said. They look at that as having a chip on their shoulder and have that little extra animosity maybe because they wanted to go there.
The overlooked players have developed nicely, something evident when Michigan State s athletic department completes another set of expense reports originating from Indianapolis.
Sometimes we have to scratch and claw a little bit more than others, Dantonio said, but that s the nature of it. We have to rolex watches earn ourselves into that opportunity to be thought of with that type of prominence year in and year out.