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Michigan State Post Mortem and Indiana Look Ahead

I’ll Admit It, I Sulked

I am slow about posting the post Michigan State game results. I sulked that it was a loss.

Without belaboring the issue, Michigan State just gradually crushed the life out of Northwestern. I think the turning point, as in 2010, was a NU fumble in the red zone. Given that MSU took the ball down the field and scored, it was a 14 point swing. Add in the MSU punt return just before the half and that was the difference between a 14 point loss and a 7 point win.

Looking back at the scenarios, this would be The Bad:

The Bad:

The Spartans show up in Evanston looking ahead to representing the Legends Division in the very first, very historic Big Ten Championship Game. It would be hard to blame them if they looked ahead to that game and took the matter at hand very lightly.

The game starts and it’s clear that the Spartans’ are living in the moment - meaning they are in Evanston to play a tough game. The Spartans storm out and put up a quick 7 against NU. And then another 7. It becomes clear that Michigan State is here to play. The Wildcats are down by two scores into the locker room.

The Wildcat faithful hold their breath, hoping that the second half is much better than the first. And it isn’t...

Final Score: NU 21 - Michigan State 42. Michigan State commands the entire game. They establish themselves as a power to be reckoned with, no matter who represents the Leaders Division in the BTCG. Northwestern must wait to see if Purdue loses...and Illinois, Ohio State, and various other teams around the country. The result leaves NU sweating bullets for the next couple of weeks to see if they will get any sort of bowl game. It isn’t a good feeling.

The actual results were not as bad as the scenario; Northwestern was more competitive than that. But a loss is a loss. And 6-6 is much worse than 7-5. It means that Northwestern must sweat bullets seeing if they will make the bubble and get into a bowl.

I think there is a 90+% chance that the Wildcats are bowl bound. But where? Well, that depends on factors like:

Which 6-6 team is most appealing versus Northwestern? Ohio State? Likely. Illinois? Not likely. Purdue? Maybe.
How far will Penn State fall? The horrific miasma of child abuse allegations seems to be a free bleeding wound. Penn State’s good name has been trashed well and thoroughly. So is a 9-3 Penn State team less appealing than a 6-6 team? Might be versus Ohio State. Doubtful versus Illinois and probably Purdue. I’m not so sure that Penn State is less appealing than Northwestern. But given the psychology and media coverage, who knows?
Northwestern has really good pull with the various bowl committees. (That’s the value of cranking out powerful and rich alums.) It could get NU a slightly higher bowl than their record would indicate.

Bottom line: I think all 10 Big Ten teams will get a bowl - even if it means someone goes “at large” outside of the B1G bowl contracts. But if someone gets kicked off the raft, I think it will be Illinois. If two get kicked to the sharks, I think it is more likely that the Wildcats claw their way into the raft than the Boilermakers.

We’ll find out Sunday...

Go Cats!

BJ Mitchell (Former NUMB Spirit Leader)
Twitter: @nuspiritleader.


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