With the likes of Indiana and Northwestern, who sport a combined two wins in conference, filling out the remainder of MSU's football schedule, it appears they have escaped their last big test on the way to representing the Legends division in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game. This follows the conference's realignment in the offseason and Saturday's 37-21 victory over Iowa.
They stand atop the division as the only squad with one conference loss, and unless the Hoosiers or Wildcats deliver a surprise blow, the Spartans can not be overtaken for the chance at the title.
Sparty's current position can be attributed to a 3-1 record through the toughest stretch of their season which included three wins in a row; the first coming in Columbus versus the Buckeyes, and the next two at home against the rival Wolverines and Badgers, both of whom were ranked in the top 15 when the teams met. The green and white then fell to the newly added Cornhuskers of Nebraska in a stinker, but limiting the loss column to just that one tally through this tough stretch has served to separate MSU from the rest of the division, and put themselves in the enviable position where they now sit.
If the Spartans are able to take care of business over the next couple weeks, they will likely end up in a rematch against either OSU or Wisconsin for the right to play in the Rose Bowl. This is based on the assumption that the current team residing atop the Leaders division, the controversy ridden Nittany Lions of Penn State, will lose at least one of their next two following a loss to the Huskers at home Saturday.
While the finish in the Leaders division is clearly still clouded with possibilities, the Spartans move forward with a choke hold on the Legends side of the conference, and will no doubt be keeping an eye on the other side of the league to see which team can earn the right to a rematch with an MSU squad that defeated them earlier in the season.
The Badgers would surely be drooling at the opportunity to avenge their last second Hail Mary defeat at the hands of Sparty earlier this season, while the Buckeyes would like a second shot now that they are sporting freshman Braxton Miller at QB full time rather than the marginal Bauserman who gave them little chance against MSU in a low scoring bout their first go 'round.
Regardless of the outcome, it is doubtful that any Big Ten fans will be complaining about the new conference setup by the time an exciting conclusion has worked itself out.