Tomorrow morning, I’m heading to Indianapolis for the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game, featuring the Wisconsin Badgers vs. Michigan State Spartans. The winner of the game will face the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena on January 2.
There’s a lot of history between Michigan State and Wisconsin. Since Coach Dantonio came to East Lansing, the Spartans have never lost to the Badgers at home and never beat them in Madison.
But whether the game was in Madison or East Lansing, every game since he arrived has been up for grabs until late in the game. There was the, “Hail Sparty” win in East Lansing earlier this year, and a last minute field goal in 2008. In 2009 and 2007, the games at Camp Randall could have gone in either direction, but the Badgers prevailed.
Tomorrow’s game will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium, a neutral site. It’s in Indiana, and a four to five hour drive for either team. Both bands will be present, and the fan bases of both teams will fill the dome. It will be like a bowl game atmosphere, but without the warm weather outside. The neutral site will allow all the talk of home field advantage to be put away, and the title to be settled on the field, the way it should be.
The winner will go on to face the Oregon Ducks and their high-energy, high-speed offense in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks have a recent history with both teams, playing each in a home-and-home series. In every game, the home team won.
For Michigan State, this game seems to be about respect. People seem to think that they won the October meeting because of a fluke play. That game had numerous twists, turns, and even play throughout. It’s all overshadowed by the final play. For Wisconsin, this game seems to be about making sure everyone knows they are the best team in the Big Ten.
Regardless of the outcome of the first ever Big Ten Championship Game, the Badgers and the Spartans have been forging an outstanding rivalry that will unfortunately end for a few years due to the Big Ten Conference’s move to divisional play. Here’s hoping the two meet in a future Big Ten Championship Game.
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