MSU takes on Wisconsin in Big Ten Championship game

Dec 2, 2011

WKAR's Melissa Benmark talked with sports writer Jack Ebling about MSU playing in the first ever Big Ten Championship game.

JACK EBLING: The Big Ten is finally getting up to speed with other conferences around the country, but when they got a twelfth team, it was inevitable that they would be able to play a conference championship game, split into divisions. I don't think this is the matchup they thought they would see. I think they wanted to have Nebraska and Michigan on one side, Ohio State and Penn State on the other side. And here are these two interlopers. Michigan State and Wisconsin, playing for the championship.

MELISSA BENMARK: So, I'm guessing from that, that you were not really expecting MSU to make it to the final spot.

EBLING: I thought Michigan State would have a pretty good season, but I thought that having to play at Nebraska, with the very difficult schedule they had in October, that might be too much. I did think that Wisconsin would be the best team in the league, and I still think that Wisconsin is probably going to be a very tough out for Michigan State to beat a second time.

BENMARK: Your prediction, maybe with or without point spreads whatever you prefer?

EBLING: I don't have a prediction yet. I'll probably decide that an hour or so before the game. But I'm thinking right now that it's going to be pretty similar to the game we saw in Spartan Stadium. Very competitive. Wouldn't be surprised if it came down to the last drive again. Wouldn't be surprised if it went to overtime. I would be surprised if there was another Hail Mary, because I think the Wisconsin coaches and players would all fall over dead on the sidelines.

BENMARK: Given that MSU probably used up all their points in that regard the last time around.

EBLING: You only have so much karma. You have to spread it out a little bit.

BENMARK: If MSU wins, then what? What's next?

EBLING: If Michigan State wins, it will go to Pasadena for the first time in 24 years. It will represent the Conference in the Rose Bowl, most likely against Oregon. Oregon still has a game to play against UCLA, but I don't see the Ducks having any problem with that. And that's exactly what Mark Hollis had in mind when he hired Mark Dantonio. When he introduced him, he said, "We are not going to rest until we have the paint of roses on our cleats," talking about this Pasadena excursion. And here it is. It's funny, Michigan State in the span of 5 years has gone from being an irrelevant program, to having the best record in the league over the last couple of years.

BENMARK: And if they lose, another bowl game, what do you think?

EBLING: If Michigan State loses, it will probably go to one of the Florida Bowl games. It will not be playing in another BCS game. Probably won't be playing in Orlando, because Michigan State's been there three times in the last four years. But it might be in Tampa. I suppose it could be in Jacksonville. It'll be a nice warm weather destination, so, the players enjoy that, and it's time Michigan State finally wins a bowl game.

BENMARK: What will you be doing on game day?

EBLING: I will be covering the game for the Sports Exchange. I will be covering it for Greater Lansing Sport Magazine, going into our fourth year, and for 24/7 sports, the largest collegiate website in the country.