Spartans Stalking Possible Rose Bowl Bid

"What it would do for his program would be monstrous, but for our University it would be monstrous too. If he can get there, I'm going to find a way to get there." --Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo talking about MSU's football team possibly getting to a Rose Bowl.

EAST LANSING - Michigan State has an outside chance to play in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA on New Year's Day and there's no one pulling for that to happen more than Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo.

The Spartans (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten), sit in second place behind 9-0 Penn State (5-0 Big Ten) and tied with Ohio State who has a head-to-head victory over the Spartans. MSU has a showdown with the Nittany Lions in State College, PA in two weeks.

But the Spartans can't afford to look ahead with a tough, physical game looming against the Wisconsin Badgers. The Badgers were dealt yet another tough blow when their All-American candidate tight end Travis Beckum broke his leg ending his collegiate career.

Wisconsin (4-4, 1-4 Big Ten) were the victims of Michigan's best game of the season when the Wolverines came from behind to defeat UW 27-25 in Ann Arbor.

The Badgers still have some weapons and the Spartans had better not be caught looking ahead or they could become victims of an upset.

UW's P.J. Hill has rushed for 613 yards averaging 4.6 yards per carry and is a load for any defense. Hill, though, has been banged up most of the season and got just three carries for nine yards last week against Illinois. In his place, freshman John Clay rushed 25 times for 88-yards and figures to be the future of the run game for Wisconsin.

But it all the talk in Madison has swirled around the Badgers quarterbacking situation. Senior Allen Evridge has struggled most of the season. Evridge is 71-of-132 for 949 yards, with five touchdowns against five interceptions which rates in the lower half of the conference's signal callers.

He was replaced in the starting lineup last week by junior Dustin Sherer and Sherer responded with two touchdown passes and a run for another in leading UW to an upset win over Illinois 27-17.

Look for Sherer to get the start against the Spartans.

The Badgers are also hoping for some big plays from receiver Lance Kendrick, Kyle Jefferson and Garrett Graham.

Graham leads the Badgers in receptions with 24 for 330 yards (13.8 per catch) while Jefferson has 13 receptions for 179 yards. Graham caught six balls for 79 yards against the Illini while sophomore David Gilreath caught two touchdown passes from Sherer and also had a 33-yard punt return.

MSU needs a workmanlike effort from their entire team to fend off the physical Badgers who have beaten MSU eight of their last eleven contests. They cannot afford a letdown if they want to enter their season-ending contest against Penn State with a shot at Pasadena.

"We need to play inspired football because we're not to the point where we're just going to throw our hats out there," said Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. "I hope we're realistic enough to know that nothing happens without hard work and challenges."

One of the Spartans biggest boosters is basketball coach Tom Izzo who's already worked out in his head what would happen, should MSU get the bid to Pasadena.

"I've got to beat Minnesota so I can catch a flight somehow," joked head coach Tom Izzo, who team faces Minnesota in Minneapolis on December 31st at 6:00pm. Izzo would then have to catch a red-eye, four-hour flight to the West Coast to arrive in time for a possible Rose Bowl appearance.

"I don't want to get like a regular fan because I understand what can happen yet. But let's face it, every win we get, we're sure putting ourselves giant steps forward toward playing in that Rose [Bowl]."

"What it would do for his program would be monstrous, but for our University it would be monstrous too. If he can get there, I'm going to find a way to get there."

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