Yesterday I started the preview of the Big Ten Football Championship Game by giving you my "5 Reasons Wisconsin Will Win the Big Ten Championship." Today, it's the exact opposite as I give you my 5 reasons for Michigan State winning the Big Ten Championship. I'll cut right to the chase here, so what are my reasons why I could see Michigan State winning? Is that my prediction? I guess you'll have to read on to find out.
1) They Have Our Number
- As I wrote last night, Michigan State has won 3 of the 5 games played against Wisconsin in the D'Antonio era. That includes one win in Madison. Combine those numbers with what we all know went down to end the game this year and you have to really start to think that this team may just have our number for some reason.
2) Kirk Cousins
- The man is about as natural born a leader as you'll find. I know I've said this a thousand times, but youtube "Kirk Cousins speech" and you'll not find a better explanation of what it means to be a B1G football player. Oh, and he's a pretty damn good QB to boot. This season Cousins is leading a Michigan State offense that is putting up 30 points a game with the worst rushing offense in the conference. He's got to be doing something right, right?
In terms of Big Ten QB's Cousins ranks 3rd in passing yards a game with 227.9yds and is 3rd in passer efficiency at 149. For the year he's thrown for 2,735yds and 21TD's to only 6INT's. Those numbers are right up there with our very own Russell Wilson and his steady hand behind center gives this team the best shot they have of winning the game. If we play like we did against him last time, where Cousins was 22-31 for 290yds and 3TD's, there is a very good chance that Michigan State wins again.
3) Defensive Line Play
- The biggest factor in Wisconsin not winning the first meeting this year without a question was the dominating play of the Michigan State defensive line and really DT Jerel Worthy. Worthy had 3 tackles and 1 tackle for loss from the DT position. More importantly he was also a disruptive force inside when Wisconsin was in the passing game, helping to cause the safety when Wilson threw the ball away out of the endzone before getting outside of the pocket.
This line was disruptive without star DE Vernon Gholston and he'll only add to the pressure felt by the Wisconsin offensive line. Getting that pressure again will go a long way towards winning this game for the Spartans.
4) Indoor Experience
- Unlike the Badgers, this team actually has experience playing indoors recently, having played at Ford Field last season in an "away" game against Florida Atlantic. Playing in a dome is a very different experience, dealing with a lot louder crowd noise, the added heat or all the people inside and the fact that there is no weather to deal with can all be hard things to adjust to when you've been playing outside. Luckily for the Spartans they carry a bit of experience in that environment and it could come in handy when the situations get loud and hostile courtesy of the Badgers fans.
5) Are You Kidding Me? Did you Actually Think I'd be Picking Michigan State in this one?
- Seriously, enough of this charade. Michigan State isn't winning this one, sorry to say all you naysayers and Bielema haters out there. All of the things I said above are worries of mine, but realistically I don't see Cousins having the game he did because it was the worst game passing wise for the Badgers D all season long. The indoor experience is a moot point because every stadium is different and neither team has ever played in Lucas Oil Stadium. The defensive line for the Spartans probably played their 2nd best game of the Big Ten season in the first matchup and it still wasn't enough to carry the Spartans to victory, it took a desperate Hail Mary by the offense to win it as Russell Wilson led Wisconsin from behind in the final 6 or so minutes.
Finally, you have to think at some point the luck runs out for Sparty and it just may come this game. I'll say it until I'm dead, the first game wasn't won by the better team, even most Spartans fans I know readily admit they were lucky to win that one. A miss-communication between Wilson and WR Nick Toon, two freak blocks by MSU, and that darn Hail Mary is exactly what it took to beat Wisconsin last time, do you really think all of that will happen again? I sure don't because lightning doesn't strike twice as we all know.
I see this one going Wisconsin's way, Badgers win it 38-17. What say you WiscoBadgers Nation? Leave your scores in the comments section and should you hit it on the head you'll be the recepient of a special gift from us!! Enjoy the game and if you are in the Green Bay area join us for Badgers Day and help us help the JJ Watt Foundation and Team Rubicon.