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MSU-Wisconsin becoming a rivalry

This season hasn’t gone the way Michigan State expected, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of today’s visit to Wisconsin.

MSU and Wisconsin combined for two of the most memorable football games in the Big Ten last year and have had many close contests over the past six seasons. And people in both programs believe the schools have built a rivalry through their tightly contested games.“No doubt (it’s a rivalry). Especially with in 2010 it went down to the wire in the fourth quarter and last year both games were close,” MSU junior receiver Bennie Fowler said. “It’s a physical game and we look forward to it.”

The meetings between the schools last season were full of suspense. A little more than a year ago, the Spartans beat Wisconsin 37-31 on Kirk Cousins’ Hail Mary touchdown pass to Keith Nichol as time expired. The Badgers won the rematch in the inaugural Big Ten championship game, edging MSU 42-39.

Those meetings further sparked talk of a rivalry between the schools.

“That’s what people are saying. I know people are saying that we have a rivalry with Wisconsin,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio said during Big Ten media days. “We’ve had great games with Wisconsin in these five years. This is a great league. You know you are going to be challenged everywhere you go and you’ve gotta be prepared to play. We’ve had great games (with Wisconsin) and they’ve been great games to watch.”

MSU junior middle linebacker Max Bullough said the meaningful games between the Spartans and Badgers of late have turned it into a rivalry. The teams are 3-3 against each other since 2007 with four of the six games being decided by six points or less.

“It’s not like the Michigan rivalry. That’s kind of different and that’s a natural built in one. Over the last few years, I’d say coach Dantonio’s era really, (Wisconsin has) kind of been a building rivalry for us given that it’s come about purely because of the games that we’ve played with them meant so much,” Bullough said. “…The fact that the games we’ve been in with Wisconsin – how close they’ve been and how much they’ve meant – that’s definitely built up the anticipation.”

MSU and Wisconsin have been among the most successful teams in the Big Ten in recent years. Wisconsin has represented the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl the past two seasons and has won a league-best 17 conference games since 2010. MSU ranks second with 15 Big Ten wins in that span.

Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema has much respect for the MSU program and said having an opportunity to face them in the championship game was special and helped in building the rivalry between the schools.

“I’ve never had an opportunity to play a rematch game within a conference like we did last year. That just kind of, I think, built (the rivalry) that much more,” Bielema said. “And it’s really something that’s emerged really probably in my time there as the head coach, and it’s something that hopefully will continue to grow.”

Today’s game at Wisconsin will be the last regular-season contest between the schools until at least 2017. The Badgers aren’t a protected cross-division rival for MSU and drop off the schedule from 2013-2016.

For other content previewing the game, check out the story of MSU redshirt freshman tight end Paul Lang. He overcame a serious back injury that required him to move home to Pittsburgh for part of the winter semester for therapy. He took online classes as he rehabbed his lower back. And now he’s gotten to a point where he’s been contributing on the field for the Spartans, which included scoring the game’s lone touchdown last Saturday.

Columnist Graham Couch writes about the Aaron Burbridge and Dion Sims combo adding promise to the MSU’s offense. Both haven’t been on the field healthy at the same time for MSU this season. Also there’s the MSU-Wisconsin matchups, our predictions for today’s game are here.

Here are today’s Big Ten picks from Solari and I.

Calloway’s picks
Michigan-Nebraska – Michigan
Ohio State-Penn State – Penn State
Iowa-Northwestern – Northwestern
Indiana-Illinois – Indiana
Purdue-Minnesota – Purdue

Solari’s picks
Michigan-Nebraska – Nebraska
Ohio State-Penn State – Ohio State
Iowa-Northwestern – Northwestern
Indiana-Illinois – Indiana (but really no one wins in this mess)
Purdue-Minnesota – Purdue

And lastly looking at basketball, the Spartans are 14th in the Associated Press preseason poll and are one of five Big Ten teams in the top 25. That includes three top five teams (Indiana 1, Ohio State 4 and Michigan 5).

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25 Responses to MSU-Wisconsin becoming a rivalry

  1. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Rousher would rather be a hammer than a nail
    Yes he would, if he could, he surely would
    Rousher would rather be a hammer than a nail
    Yes he would, if he only could, he surely would

    Away, I’d rather Maxwells passes not sail away
    Like a swan that’s here and gone
    An OC gets tied up to the ground
    He gives his Athletic Dept it’s saddest sound
    Its saddest sound

    Rousher would rather be 5-4 than on the street
    Yes he would, if he could, he surely would
    He would rather feel the earth beneath his feet
    Yes he would, if he only could, he surely would

  2. avatar '89 Chemistry says:

    “Stars”, Decorated Players, Line Masses: UW Edition. [Plus “The Barge”.]

    In Rivals/Scout 2009-2012 recruiting-class assessments, MSU recruits averaged 3.05 stars; those of UW, 2.94 stars.

    BTPotW
    UW has nine traditional Big Ten Player of the Week awards on its current roster. LBs Chris Borland and Mike Taylor have won four and two of these, respectively; RB Montee Ball has won five.
    MSU has four traditional BTPotWs from prior years—plus two-time 2012 winner Le’veon Bell.

    All-Big-Ten veterans
    Ball, Borland and Taylor DR are 2011 1st-team ABTs teamers that had lesser honors as underclassmen. Center Travis Frederick, RB James White, and TE Jacob Pedersen have earned 2nd-team ABT awards. Honorable Mentions include tackle Rick Wagner (twice) and WR Jared Abbrederis (a very dangerous punt returner).

    MSU ABT veterans include two 1st-teamers that had lesser honors as underclassmen; four 2nd-teamers; and five hms.

    All-B1G expectations for 2012 in August:
    Projected 1st-team ABT 2012 [6]
    : Abbrederis, Ball, Borland, Frederick, Taylor, Wagner. (MSU has five such players).
    Projected 2nd-team ABT 2012 [1]: Pedersen. (MSU has three (not including Fou Fonoti)).
    Projected h.m. ABT 2012 [3]: White; DE David Gilbert; safety Shelton Johnson. (MSU has six).

    That was 25 players—including 11 first-teamers. The mid-season CBS Sports and Phil Steele combined teams have actually increased the latter number to 12:
    UW: Abbrederis, Borland, Frederick, Taylor, Wagner, White, CB Devin Smith.
    MSU: Bell, Bullough, Lewis, Sadler, D. Sims.

    Steele has more players on his 2nd:
    Ball & P Drew Meyer [UW]; Gholston, KR Nick Hill, McDonald, Rush [MSU]
    and 3rd teams:
    DT Ethan Hemer [UW]; Conroy, Dennard [MSU].

    (Still 21 players—but decidedly reflective of these teams’ dubious fortunes.)

    FBS Watch Lists:
    UW had eight players on summer W.L.s: Abbrederis, Ball, Borland, Frederick, Pedersen, Taylor, Wagner, and White. MSU had ten players on summer W.L.s.

    Some notable advancement since then includes Borland & Gholston to the Lombardi quarterfinals list, and M. Bullough to the Butkus semifinals list

    All-Americans
    Ball was a consensus AA in 2011; Abbrederis & Borland were 2011 honorable mentions. [No veteran AA Spartans returned in 2012.]
    Ball & Wagner were 1st-team Athlon pre-season selections; Borland & Frederick made the third team. [No Spartans made the Athlon list.]
    But in a strange reversal of fortune, no Badgers are on Phil Steele’s mid-season All-American team. Yet three Spartans are: D. Sims & M. Bullough equate to Honorable Mentions, and Le’veon Bell is on the first team.

    Line masses:
    UW’s O-line has gotten younger, but bigger; they average 326#! MSU’s D line averages 283 #.
    UW’s DTs average 327#, but the DEs are a much lighter 254# on average. The latest version of MSU’s O line averages 305.

    The Barge?
    UW’s early offensive struggles led to a suggestion by James White that uses the Badgers’ size to advantage. This offensive formation (a Wildcat variation) features seven O-linemen; two TEs; Ball as RB; and White as the nominal QB. It has worked very well against recent UW opponents; it will be interesting to see what changes [if any] MSU employs to counter the formation. Or whether MSU’s relatively athletic LBs & DBs can outmaneuver big blockers—and, for that matter, whether pass defenders can get speedier breaks on pass routes.

  3. avatar AtlSpartan says:

    I feel good about today. We are getting better every week. The problem is none of us knew we were starting at such a lower level than we finished last year.

    My thought was that our good defense would buy time for Maxwell and the young receivers to improve. The “D” hasn’t bought enough time, (primarily because our corners have repeatedly given up big plays), and Maxwell and the young receivers haven’t improved at the rate anticipated.

    The other big prediction I missed in the pre-season was the fact that I thought our highly touted defense would turn the other team over MUCH more often than they have, giving Maxwell several short fields a game. The 4 dropped interceptions against Iowa, (which was really the season killer), points again at the defensive backfield.

    However the big difference this year is Dan Conroy has had a tough year. I know no one feels worse than he does, but the fact is if he had been as consistent as we all assumed when we got our hopes up, we would likely be 7 – 1, 6 -2 at a minimum.

    This is still a very good team and I hope they can cowboy-up, pull this season out and get to a decent bowl game.

    I still love Dantonio and the way he and his teams represent our university.

    • avatar '89 Chemistry says:

      Our assumptions (myself included!) about Conroy’s consistency weren’t realistic; as I [and USMC] see it, the real problem has been MSU not scoring enough TDs instead of FG attempts. From an earlier post of mine:

      Perspective on the reliability of Conroy: Paul Eddinger is the Spartans’ most accurate career field-goal kicker, at 46 for 58 [79.3%]. Before the UM game, Dan Conroy was 46 for 58; it was only by finishing the day at 47 for 60 that he dropped to 2nd place.

      Conroy’s 2012 slump is a scandalous 71.4% accuracy. That’s worse than Eddinger, Swenson, and Langloh—but that’s it. If this slump continues—by missing four of 12 more FGs this season—he’ll end his career ahead of Langloh in accuracy and just behind [76.4%] Spartan runner-up Swenson [78.0%].

      Finally, let’s suppose Conroy misses all twelve of the projected attempts remaining in his career. It presupposes he’d get an absurd opportunity after the 11th miss—but that should underscore the point. Were that to happen, he’d still be a more accurate kicker than Morten Freaking Andersen!

      • avatar jerseyjohn says:

        langloh was money in the rose and sun bowls…all while the east lansing police were busting him for having keg parties.

      • avatar Ben Green says:

        I appreciate the statistical comparison between Conroy and past kickers. It seems he misses at distances he should make and makes them from longer distances more than might be expected. During this offense challenged season his accuracy is even more essential. Missing from 39 last week was a killer.

    • avatar GoSt8Go says:

      Glad you are back.

  4. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    When you have the leader in Passing and Rushing yards in the Conference in your backfield, there ain’t nothing wrong with the offense EXCEPT it’s not scoring more than the opposition. Ring up some TD’s as ’89 indicates.

  5. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    NW whipping up on Ioway, so looking at JLS losing his double wide. Down 4 in the 3rd.

  6. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    JLS making a fool of himself again arguing a call and then delay of game for the field goal, followed by a false start, talk about unraveling as a coaching staff.

  7. avatar Spartan81 says:

    Ole Miss 30
    JLS 27

  8. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    And the double wide is gone, 30-27 in OT. Sorry Green Curtain, remember what I said about the cardboard box builder.

    • avatar steveL says:

      Twelve men in the huddle Duh!!! A run for minus 6 on the next play. Sheesh. Let’s just join the MAC and get it over with.

  9. avatar MSUFanInSLC says:

    This is why we are 0-3 in Big Ten

  10. avatar Vanilla Ice says:

    This team is so poorly coached! How do you F-up a 1rst and goal on the 6. Easy, penalties, poor play selection, and not running the ball when you have a QB that isn’t able to read defenses and make plays in the Red Zone.

  11. avatar marky mark says:

    One helluva comedy on ABC!!!

  12. avatar steveL says:

    First down in the red zone and before you know it we are near mid field. This is really unacceptable play regardless who is injured. Who are the back ups? Field hockey recruits?

  13. avatar MSUFanInSLC says:

    We have an offensive lineman tackling a guy 5-10 yards behind the play… Do we even have an offensive line coach? Or do hey just do whatever they want?

  14. avatar MSUFanInSLC says:

    Wow… Crazy play calling to end half… Either go for pts or run it out… Indecision is dangerous..

  15. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    I’d say the Purdue bandwagon has officially self-immolated.

    Fun day, Coach Dantonio wins his 3rd of last 4 over Bluiemia in OT and JLS loses his double wide also in OT

  16. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    I see that all the fair weather trolls have gone back under the bridges.

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