By now, everyone knows that the final spot in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game comes down to this Saturday’s slugfest between Wisconsin and Penn State at Camp Randall. Each school has its own unique storylines coming in.
Of course, with the scrutiny of scandal surrounding the Penn State program, the Nittany Lion players should be admired for their perseverance and performance in the team's past two games (a close loss to Nebraska and a win at Ohio State).
As for Wisconsin, a team once considered to be a national championship contender, they need a win in the worst way just to salvage their season.
From a talent standpoint, it would seem as though the Badgers have the clear advantage. Their running game is nearly unparalleled. They lead the Big Ten with 245 rushing yards per game and all Montee Ball does is score touchdowns.
It starts up front with a dominant offensive line, for which Wisconsin is perennially known.
Although Penn State is third in the Big Ten in both sacks and rushing defense, I would expect the Badgers offensive line to keep control.
Of course, the Badgers' other not-so-secret weapon is the explosive play of elusive quarterback Russell Wilson. He is the type of player that cannot be game-planned for because of his dual-threat ability.
Imagine if Denard Robinson could actually throw. He would be Russell Wilson.
Spartan fans remember Wilson very well, considering he took what looked like a sure victory for Michigan State (up 14 midway through the fourth quarter) and turned it into a tie game late, before some late-game Spartan heroics.
Based on this logic, it would seem as though any right thinking Spartan fan would love to see Wisconsin get knocked out by the crew from Happy Valley. This would set up a greater likelihood of a Spartan championship game win—and therefore a berth in the Rose Bowl.
But often times, sports—especially collegiate sports—are highly illogical. Teams who have no business winning games win them. Players who were not highly regarded or were largely overlooked make the biggest plays in the biggest moments. It happens all the time. It happens every year.
With all of the body blows Penn State has taken over the past few weeks, you can make the argument that the all-too-overused-but-generally-true mantra of “Us against the World” is a perfect description for the Nittany Lions.
Quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Robert Bolden seem average. The team lacks explosion. The linebacking corps is a long way away from the days of LaVar Arrington and Paul Posluszny.
Yet you just get the feeling that Penn State could be that team that defies the odds, wins their final two games of the season (on the road in Columbus and Madison) and finds a way into the championship game.
If that happens, imagine the hype, the build-up and the questions that will surround the entire week leading up to the game between the Spartans and Nittany Lions. By then, the Penn State team will be accustomed to the daily media assault.
But will the Spartans?
How will they respond to questions about Joe Paterno, especially if JoePa had once recruited them? It will undoubtedly be a media circus and needless to say, Penn State would assuredly be the sentimental favorite in the game.
Does this mean I think Penn State would continue their magical run and beat the Spartans? Not if Le’Veon bell keeps running like Adrian Peterson and Keshawn Martin continues his best DeSean Jackson impression.
However, the general consensus seems to be that Penn State would be the more ideal matchup for Michigan State in Indianapolis next week.
In the words of Lee Corso: Not so fast, my friends!