Michigan State Football: Ok, Now What?
Well, Michigan State got punched in the mouth, the kidneys, the liver, the solar plexes, and other areas by Ohio State last Saturday at the Horseshoe 56-7. This loss officially eliminates the Spartans from the Big Ten East race with two conference losses. And it also knocks them out of any College Football Playoff (CFP) consideration.
Ok, so what does Michigan State have to play for now?
A NEW YEAR'S SIX BOWL
With a victory over Penn State this coming Saturday, MSU would finish 10-2 and possibly in the Top 10. It would also put them in strong consideration for one of the New Year's Six Bowls (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Cotton, and Peach Bowls).
The Cotton and Orange Bowls are the CFP semifinal games this season. So they're not going there.
The Rose Bowl has to take the Big Ten champion (as long as they're not in the playoff) and the Pac-12 champ (who won't be in the playoff this season). However, if Ohio State makes the CFP and MSU is 10-2, the Spartans would be a candidate for that game (as would a 10-2 Michigan team, assuming they lose to Ohio State).
Many observers feel in that scenario that the Rose Bowl would take 10-2 Michigan over MSU. That would move the Spartans down to either the Peach, Fiesta, or Sugar Bowls.
WHAT IF STATE LOSES TO PENN STATE?
A 9-3 MSU team is probably out of the New Year's Six Bowls. That would move them down to the Florida Citrus Bowl (Orlando) or the Outback Bowl (Tampa) where they would play an SEC team.
Iowa, if they beat Nebraska, would finish 10-2. Considering the fact that Iowa fans tend to travel well, they could end up in a higher bowl than State.
And there are those who believe that State could fall below 8-4 Penn State (if they beat MSU), 8-4 Purdue (assuming they beat Indiana), and possibly a 9-4 Wisconsin team (if they beat Minnesota but lose in the Big Ten title game) in the bowl pecking order.
OK, IF NOT THE CITRUS OR OUTBACK, WHAT'S NEXT?
The Las Vegas and Music City Bowls (Nashville) are next in line. A 9-3 Michigan State team wouldn't fall below these two bowls. The Pinstripe Bowl is below the Music City Bowl (New York City). State went there two years ago, they won't go back to New York City.
If MSU beats Penn State, their bowl gets a lot better. If they lose, They could slip to the Music City Bowl in Nashville. That would be a major disappointment for a team that was 8-0 and in the top four after beating Michigan on October 30th in East Lansing.
So go beat Penn State!