MADISON, Wis. — For all that’s gone wrong this season, for all of MSU’s shortcomings, for its struggles with injuries and offense …
The Spartans are one field goal at Michigan — MSU’s made or U-M’s missed — from controlling its path to the Big Ten championship game.
The Spartans (who are actually 2-3 in the Big Ten) would’ve been a game behind Nebraska heading into next week’s visit from the Cornhuskers, with a chance to grab a share of the lead and hold the tiebreaker with Nebraska and Michigan (which lost Saturday night at Nebraska).
What-ifs get you nowhere in major college sports. But that’s how close the Spartans’ season outlook is to looking very different.
What’s significant about Saturday’s win at Wisconsin is that MSU figured out how to win a close game against a worthy opponent and did it on the road.
That bodes well for the next few weeks, as MSU makes a push for a New Year’s Day bowl, and next season, when much of its team returns.
The remainder of this season figures to feature close games, at least according to the data. MSU’s five Big Ten games this season have been decided by a total of 13 points.
Saturday was needed. The conversation of the season needed to change and the defense needed to be rewarded. Both happened.