Michigan State Will Beat Wisconsin by Three in the Big Ten Title Game Because...
It is the first of its kind in the Big Ten.
The very first title game will be played tomorrow night in Indianapolis and features the No. 11 Legends Division champion Michigan State Spartans (10-2) versus the No. 14 Leaders Division champion Wisconsin Badgers (10-2).
There are plenty of national, regional and local experts who say the Spartans can't beat Wisconsin twice in one season. They say it's a mismatch. It will be another Badger one-sided victory.
I believe Michigan State will beat Wisconsin by three in the Big Ten title game because...
The Spartans Will Not Commit Any Major Penalties
Michigan State was not flagged for a single penalty in the first meeting at Spartan Stadium on October 22, 2011.
The Spartans can still commit some minor penalties (the five-yard kind). But here's a message to defensive end William Gholston (pictured) and his teammates: "Be confident, play smart and watch your temper."
If you can repeat your October 22nd performance in the penalties area, you will beat Wisconsin.
The Spartans Will Win the Turnover Battle
In their first meeting this year, Michigan State won the turnover battle two to one.
All-Big Ten safety Trenton Robinson (No. 39 in the picture) and fellow safety Isaiah Lewis intercepted Russell Wilson passes in the Spartans' 37-31 win.
Michigan State did lose a fumble and it did lead to a Wisconsin touchdown.
If the Spartans win the turnover battle, it won't matter if the Badgers tally 300 or 400 yards of total offense.
The Spartans Will Contain Wisconsin Quarterback Russell Wilson
Let's agree that Wisconsin running back Montee Ball will get plenty of yards running the ball and score some touchdowns.
The Spartans' success against the Badgers revolves around their ability to contain Russell Wilson. If we travel back to their first meeting this season, the Wisconsin quarterback was frustrated by the Michigan State defense until the fourth quarter.
If Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson is held under 250 yards of total offense, then the Spartans will win the Big Ten title.
The Spartans Special Teams Will Outplay the Badgers Special Teams
I am picking the Spartans by three so placekicker Dan Conroy (pictured) has to kick the game winner.
Michigan State also needs solid performances from two freshmen. Kick returner Nick Hill needs to match or exceed his previous performance against the Badgers and average at least 25 yards a return. Freshman punter Mike Sadler must average at least 45 yards a punt.
The Spartans must also contain Wisconsin return specialist Jared Abbrederis. He averaged more than 20 yards a return when the two teams played in October.
A touchdown from the Michigan State special teams would be great. Last week punt returner Keshawn Martin broke the game open against Northwestern by returning a punt for a touchdown just before halftime.
Didn't the Spartans score a touchdown against Wisconsin in their first contest by blocking a punt and recovering the ball in the end zone?
Michigan State has the more dominant group of special team players, which will enable MSU to leave Indianapolis with the conference title.
Keshawn Martin Will Play Like Percy Harvin
Do you remember Percy Harvin when he played for the Florida Gators?
He averaged 10 yards a carry when he ran with the football, and 15 yards a catch as a receiver. (His head coach was Urban Meyer.)
Wide receiver Keshawn Martin (pictured) has been used the same way by the Spartans this year. Martin has over 1,100 yards in total offense when you combine his rushing, receiving and returns totals.
Look for the Spartans to line up Martin in the backfield, use him on "end arounds" and throw plenty of passes his way.
If Keshwan Martin gets loose, the Spartans will beat Wisconsin.
The Spartans Will Throw Plenty of Passes to B.J. Cunningham
In the biggest game of his college career, Spartan wide receiver B.J. Cunningham (pictured) should be quarterback Kirk Cousin's favorite target against the Badgers.
He was when the two teams faced each other in October. Cunningham caught six passes for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Tomorrow night he'll need 10 or more catches to beat Wisconsin. The senior wide receiver is up to the task, as Cunningham has 67 receptions for 1,125 yards and nine touchdown catches this season.
So there are my six reasons for believing Michigan State will beat Wisconsin, and here's my prediction:
Big Ten Title Game
Michigan State Spartans 27, Wisconsin Badgers 24