Win and the Spartans are In (For Sure)

Either Ohio State or Michigan will go to the Rose Bowl and the other will compete with Illinois, Wisconsin and Penn State for the best bowl bid remaining. They will sort themselves into the Capital One Bowl, the Outback Bowl, the Alamo Bowl and the Champs Sports Bowl. That leaves the Insight Bowl and the Motor City Bowl for the bottom five, where MSU resides.

EAST LANSING - Michigan State is one of ten teams eligible for a bowl game in the Big Ten. Only lowly Minnesota has no chance to extend their season.

Entering the final week of conference competition, the Spartans (2-5 in conference) sit at six wins overall along with Iowa (4-4) Northwestern (3-4) and Indiana (2-5).

And with Ohio State losing to Illinois, the prospects of the Big Ten gaining two BCS bids grew smaller, meaning those at the bottom are in a frenzy to win-out and land one of seven guaranteed bowl bids.

Either Ohio State or Michigan will go to the Rose Bowl and the other will compete with Illinois, Wisconsin and Penn State for the best bowl bid remaining. They will sort themselves into the Capital One Bowl, the Outback Bowl, the Alamo Bowl and the Champs Sports Bowl.

That leaves the Insight Bowl and the Motor City Bowl for the bottom five. Purdue has an inside track with seven wins, but must travel to Bloomington to face a desperate Hoosier squad. MSU will host Penn State and Northwestern will have the biggest test facing Illinois on the road. (Iowa is finished with conference play; they will host Western Michigan.)

Worst case scenario for MSU is a Spartan loss combined with Northwestern, Iowa and Indiana wins. That would put four teams (including Purdue) ahead of Michigan State with seven overall wins. A bowl bid would be highly improbable.

But with a win against Penn State, problem solved. The Motor City bowl would gleefully host a seven-win MSU squad. Purdue could lock up an Insight Bowl bid, but even with a loss and seven wins overall, along with Indiana and potentially Northwestern and Iowa as well, none would be as attractive a draw for the Motor City Bowl as the Spartans.

If a win does not happen for MSU, though, a chance to go bowling still exists. If Northwestern and Indiana (both likely underdogs) lose, they'll join the Spartans at six wins. And although Iowa will be favored to win a seventh game as they host Western Michigan, in this season of upsets, nothing is guaranteed.

Even with an Iowa win and MSU, IU and NU losses, the Green and White still have a shot at a bowl. Spartan fans travel well, probably much better than Hoosier and Wildcat fans, making Michigan State an attractive draw for a minor bowl that lies outside of Big Ten conference affiliations.

It's possible the ACC will not have eight bowl-eligible teams, meaning a spot in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl could open.

The Pac-10 also might not have enough teams to meet all of their commitments. If Oregon makes it to the National Championship game, the Pac-10 could have two BCS teams with Arizona State or USC joining the Ducks. That would translate to the rest of the conference teams moving up a slot, opening an opportunity for a non-Pac-10 team in a bowl such as the Pioneer Pure Vision Las Vegas Bowl or the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.

Bottom line for the Spartans: win on senior day and things should take care of themselves. Staying in the bowl mix, and practicing for another month and a half, looks like it could come down to beating the Nittany Lions at home — pure and simple.

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