It has been more than 25 years since a Michigan State Spartan had roses between his teeth to revel in the joy of a Rose Bowl berth.
Now, the Spartans – a team filled with players that weren't alive for that last Rose Bowl – sit one game away from securing a trip to Pasadena.
Even more incredibly, the Spartans likely will head to Southern California regardless of the outcome of Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game with Ohio State.
But the Rose Bowl isn't the Rose Bowl without the process it takes to get there – by being Big Ten champs – and not as a consolation prize.
"I want to go to Indianapolis and win the game and go to the Rose Bowl the right way," senior Max Bullough said. "To me the Big Ten championship – the Rose Bowl is the goal because to get there usually you have to win the Big 10 championship. That's what it is to me personally.
"The Rose Bowl in my mind isn't the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is the Rose Bowl because you won the Big 10. That's how I look at it."
For the Spartans, it wouldn't be as incredible without a win to book the tickets to Pasadena. Make no mistake, the postgame comments if the Spartans lose Saturday will be bittersweet because of the likelihood of still going to the Rose Bowl. But that would be moving to the third goal without completing the second.
"Goal number one this year was for us to get to this football game because you can't go to the Rose Bowl unless you get to this football game," coach Mark Dantonio said. "Goal number two was to get to the Rose Bowl. Goal number three was to win our bowl game and to finish and to complete our circle."
It's a circle the Spartans want to see in full, not in part and it's a circle that has been a long time coming. It's a circle that is earned not given – and it's an opportunity for the Spartans to send a message.
"I would think it would send a message throughout the country right now," Dantonio said. "I think we're sending that message. We're doing all we can to send the message in terms of how we play on the field.
"Sometimes we've got to scratch and claw a little bit more than others, but that's the nature of it. We have to earn ourselves into that opportunity to be thought of with that type of prominence year in and year out."
And for now, the next step to more national recognition is winning Saturday and taking things to Pasadena or as Dantonio said, "That's our circle."