In the last several years, Michigan State has been somewhat of a football powerhouse. They've certainly owned arch rival Michigan, either won or been in the hunt for the Big Ten championship and once even made it to the Final Four.
And now it appears the wheels have fallen off. Any championship aspirations, Big Ten or otherwise, have gone up in smoke. Before this week's home game against Northwestern it was said the Spartans were just playing to get into the best bowl game they could. But not so fast. More on that later. Let's look back at what happened.
A season opening victory against lowly Furman. The usual patsy.
Then off to Notre Dame, a ranked team (#18) at the time. They would defeat the Irish for what looked then to be a "signature" win. But was it? Turned out, Notre Dame was WAY over rated. They've been clobbered by lesser teams since. So MSU winning at ND wasn't such a big deal after all. And the Spartans haven't won since.
At home, they were shelled by Wisconsin 30-6.
@ Indiana, they came out on the losing end of a 24-21 game -- in overtime. Indiana? Really?
Back home again, BYU would thrash them to the tune of 31-14.
And the Wildcats of Northwestern just went into East Lansing and thoroughly thumped the beleaguered Spartans 54-40. Dang. 54-40 or fight rings a bell. Didn't that have something to do with a dispute over the Oregon border in the pre-civil war days? At any rate, it doesn't appear like MSU has any fight left in them. You don't give up 54 points to an unranked team on your home field and expect to be considered a half way decent football team.
Which brings me back to the bowl game. There's so many of them these days, a team has to be just about awful not to make it into one of them.
But there's the thing. Typically, a team has to win a minimum of 6 games throughout the season to qualify. And there's no guarantee MSU will even make that low standard. Consider their remaining schedule.
@ Maryland. The Terps aren't world beaters, but they're certainly respectable and will be playing at home against a reeling MSU team. Call that iffy for MSU at best.
Then the rejuvenated Michigan comes to town. Ranked #4 nationally, the Wolverines are a great team this year. And nobody wants payback worse than UM. That game could get ugly.
Illinois isn't very good, so the Spartans should probably handle them, even on the road. Maybe.
Rutgers is gawd-awful. Chalk up a win.
Then they get Ohio State. No introduction necessary. The Buckeyes at #2 are definitely the real deal. That game could also get out of hand.
They finish up on the road at Penn State. Certainly no gimme. The Nits can play well at times and their home crowd could easily carry them to a victory.
So add it up and what do you have?
It's entirely possible MSU could wind up 5-7, even 4-8.
Remembering MSU was ranked around #13 nationally in the pre-season, who would have thought it even possible they might not make it to ANY bowl game?
My, how far and how quick the mighty have fallen.....