Stakes High in Big Ten Title Game
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
Stakes will be high for No. 2 Ohio State and No. 10 Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game – though there might be some good consolation prizes for the loser.
The Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) need a win to keep their national title hopes alive and it would help if it was an impressive victory to fend off a one-loss SEC champion in the BCS standings. But even with a loss, the Buckeyes are well-positioned to receive an at-large BCS bid.
The Spartans (11-1, 8-0) need a victory to guarantee a desperately coveted spot in the Rose Bowl, where they haven’t played since 1988. But if they lose, and Ohio State plays for the national title, the Spartans could go to the Rose Bowl anyway.
“It’s all on the line,” Michigan State defensive back Darqueze Dennard said.
The Leaders Division-champion Buckeyes, coming off a 42-41 victory against Michigan, have one of the top offenses in the country, averaging 48.2 points a game to rank third in the country and 530.5 yards to trail just five teams.
The Legends Division-champion Spartans are among best on defense, giving up a nation-low 237.7 yards and 11.8 points per game to rank fourth.
Soon after Ohio State stopped archrival Michigan on a 2-point conversion Saturday with 32 seconds left to stay undefeated, linebacker.
Ryan Shazier nailed a scouting report on Michigan State.
“They’re a really good team with a really good defense and an offense that’s getting better,” the Butkus Award finalist said. “I can’t wait to play them in Indianapolis.”
The Buckeyes have won 24 straight games, a program record and the longest active streak in major college football.
Ohio State also was 12-0 and won its division by two games last year, but its season ended after the regular season because of NCAA sanctions stemming from the tattoo scandal that rocked the program and led to ex-coach Jim Tressel’s exit.