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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Spartans, Wolverines now battling for BCS

For Michigan State, the situation is simple: Beat Wisconsin in Saturday's Big Ten championship game and the Spartans are heading to the Rose Bowl. Yet, even though MSU is in control of its own destiny, Michigan might have the more favorable situation when it comes to getting a BCS bid.
While Michigan will have no other option than to sit and wait, a loss by MSU Saturday might propel the Wolverines into an at-large BCS invite.
The Spartans are ranked 13th in the latest BCS standings released Sunday night, Michigan is ranked 16th. In order to get an at-large bid to the BCS you have to be ranked in top 14. Many BCS experts from ESPN and CBS say Michigan would likely jump the loser of the Michigan State-Wisconsin game and or Georgia if it loses to LSU in the SEC championship game. Since three teams from the same conference can't get a BCS bid, that means a loss to Wisconsin will likely leave the Spartans as the odd-man out -- again.
Even though MSU beat Michigan in the regular season, won the Legends Division of the Big Ten and is currently ranked a full percentage point higher than the Wolverines in the BCS, the Spartans might fall victim to the flawed system of college football marketing which favors brand recognition over quality.
There's no question BCS sponsors would rather have Michigan than Michigan State. Michigan will draw better national TV ratings, bring more fans and flat about provide more flash.
As Michigan athletic director David Brandon told reporters after the Ohio State game, "We're Michigan. Everyone knows who we are and our tradition and our team."
Like it or not Spartan fans, that statement is undeniably true. Even MSU coach Mark Dantonio admits his program doesn't have the national recognition, yet, of the country's historically elite programs.
It's the same reason the Spartans were snubbed last season, even though they finished with an 11-1 regular season record.
The ideal scenario for this state, and the MSU-Michigan rivalry, would be for the Spartans to advance to the Rose Bowl and the Wolverines to get invited to the Sugar Bowl as an at-large team.
It's very possible.
The Spartans will either face the best team in the Pac 12 (unless Stanford or Oregon qualify for the National Championship Game) or the third team from the SEC in either the Capitol One Bowl or Outback Bowl.
If Michigan does get a BCS invite, they'll likely face the worst of the BCS crop in the Sugar Bowl -- probably Houston. Otherwise they'll end up in the same SEC matchup as a non-BCS Spartans team would.
As it stands, Michigan is the team with the best chance to win a BCS game this season -- which considering MSU had the better year and won the rivalry game in the regular season, won't sit well with Spartan fans.

Dantonio, Hoke both getting consideration for Coach of the Year
The Big Ten Coach of the Year award will be announced Wednesday and it should go to either Brady Hoke or Mark Dantonio.
What Hoke has been able to do at Michigan in his first-season, even with a schedule padded with eight home games and a down Ohio State, is spectacular. Nobody, even the Wal-Mart Wolverine faithful, saw Michigan winning 10 games this season. If the award goes to Hoke, it can't be questioned.
"I’m proud of Brady that he came in and ignored the naysayers and did his job and created a success story in his first year… He’s my coach of the year, I can tell you that,” Brandon said.
On the other side, Dantonio is establishing a level of consistency that's never been associated with Michigan State football. The Spartans have won back-to-back conference titles for the first time since 1998-1999 and have won 10 games in consecutive seasons for the first time ever.
The balance of power has shifted in the Big Ten and what Dantonio has been able to do at Michigan State is a big part of that.
“It’s an extremely competitive conference,” Dantonio said in conference call Sunday, not putting forth any lobbying on his behalf to win the award. “You look around and see people winning games that they would not normally. That's a credit to our conference."
A third candidate would be Wisconsin's Bret Bielema, who also praised what Dantonio has done at MSU in Sunday's Big Ten conference call.
"I've known Mark a long time and he's a tremendous football coach. The product on the field represents what those coaches are doing every day."
The Spartans and Badgers kickoff just after 8 p.m. Saturday in Indianapolis in a game that will determine a lot for each program, as well as Michigan, come bowl season.


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