Spartans must get off mat and regroup

The Spartans (4-4, 3-2) in the conference can still make themselves bowl eligible with just two more wins in their next four games. MSU's next opponent is the Ohio State Buckeyes led by coach Jim Tressel

(EAST LANSING) - As tough as Saturday's triple overtime loss 45-37 to Michigan was, MSU must lift itself off the map and regroup.

The Spartans still have several attainable goals to achieve if they can pick themselves up and get back into the game.

The Spartans (4-4, 3-2) in the conference can still make themselves bowl eligible with just two more wins in their next four games. MSU is playing a rare 12th game in Hawaii against the Rainbows, coached by former Detroit Lions assistant June Jones.

Michigan State proved that they can play with the best teams in the conference in their pitched battle with Michigan. If the Spartans can play nearly as well in their next game, a battle with the suddenly resurgent Ohio State Buckeyes, they would make themselves attractive to a number of holiday bowls.

Consider the facts; a win over Ohio State would give MSU the edge over the Buckeyes and the Minnesota Golden Gophers, two of the most high profile teams in the Big Ten.

While #9 Michigan and either #4 Wisconsin or Iowa appear headed to BCS bowl games (Rose and at-large bid) and with Purdue self-destructing with three straight losses, the Spartans would be behind only Iowa or Wisconsinin the pecking order for the next Big Ten affiliated games.

If the Spartans defeat Wisconsin it might grab the #3 Florida Citrus Bowl or the #4 Outback Bowl a great reward for, let's say a 8-4 or 7-5 Michigan State team.

If the Spartans could win out, it would be yet another building block in John L. Smith's effort to solidify his recruiting base and land more high-profile players to the program. A second consecutive eight-win season would likely turn a lot of recruits towards East Lansing.

The way MSU played against the Wolverines Saturday must strike fear into the hearts of the Buckeyes who, despite their great recruiting record, have struggled offensively. Wisconsin's smash-mouth, power running game would play into the hands of a motivated Spartans team.

The Spartans can't afford to throw in the towel after a tough loss. Looming ahead are Ohio State, Wisconsin, the annual Land Grant trophy game vs. Penn State and a trip to Hawaii to face Timmy Chang and Co.

They must put the heartbreaking loss to Michigan behind them and find a way to solidify their secondary. If they can do that, they could find a nice reward for their hard work, a few days of sun on the beaches before a holiday bowl game.

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