It's a Gator Bowl elimination game, y'all! Pretty much, if Northwestern beats Michigan State, they get to go to the Gator Bowl in Florida, and if they lose, they go to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Arizona. So root for Northwestern to win, unless you're from Arizona? Meanwhile, if Michigan State loses, they might not even be in any bowl. So although Northwestern is officially eliminated from the Big Ten Championship, there's still a lot on the line.
Let's predict, guys!
The line in Vegas on this game shows how little respect Northwestern gets. NU is 7-3 with 3 narrow losses and MSU is 5-5 overall and 2-4 at home, yet still a 7.5 favorite. Can NU stop Le'Veon Bell is the question. The rush D has been solid all year so as long as they contain him the Spartans should struggle on offense as Andrew Maxwell is mediocre. MSU has a very good D, but Kain Colter and the offense will do just enough in a game that seems destined to go down to the wire between 2 teams that have have not been kind to their respective fan bases health this year.
Northwestern 24, Michigan State 21
Last week, the offense showed that it can move the ball against an excellent defense; I think they can repeat that kind of performance this week. Michigan State's offense shouldn't be able to keep pace, even if the Spartan defense does a bit better than their big brother did.
Northwestern wins, 24-13.
This is not a must-win in the traditional sense of the term, but I think it's a must-win for this program to show that it's taking the next step and moving beyond just being competitive to actually cementing its status as a solid force in the Big Ten. Lose this game, and well, fans start getting antsy about whether an impending embarrassment against Illinois could actually happen. Win it, and there's a good likelihood of finishing 9-3 overall, 5-3 in conference, which is a really good year and a great foundation to build on for next year. I think the Wildcats, stung from their loss last week, come out angry. They're out to prove something, and they're going to win.
Michigan State 24, Northwestern 21
After last week's horrifying tragedy where I picked Michigan, 38, Northwestern, 31, I spent three days staring at my hands, starving to death while every foodstuff I touched turned to gold, wondering how I had attained such deadly power. I cannot, in good conscience, again pick against Northwestern knowing how awesome my power is. Michigan State's defense has been great, but Northwestern has done work offensively all year, and I don't think Andrew Maxwell's group can hang. All that goes out the window if Northwestern can't tackle Le'Veon Bell, who could put up 200 yards easy against Northwestern on runs up the gut.