Gameday: Spartans Facing Must Win At UW

Michigan State is 4-1 (.800) in Big Ten openers vs. Wisconsin, including a 2-1 mark in games played in Camp Randall Stadium. The Spartans open Big Ten play against the Badgers for the second time in the last three years this afternoon.

WHAT: Micghigan State 1-2 at Wisconsin 3-0

WHERE: Tv ESPN (Dave Pasch, Bob Griese and Chris Spielman)

Series Michigan State leads 27-20 (13-12 in Madison) Rankings Last Meeting Michigan State won, 25-24, on Nov. 1, 2008 in East Lansing. Brett Swenson kicked a 44-yard fi eld goal with seven seconds left, lifting the 22nd-ranked Spartans to a 25-24 comeback win over Wisconsin. The Badgers led for the seventh time in nine games before losing in the fi nal seconds.

EAST LANSING - Michigan State's bowl hopes are on the line today as they face the 3-0 Wisconsin Badgers to start Big Ten play this afternoon.

The Spartans are a disappointing 1-2 heading into today's conference opener and another loss could really deal their post season bowl hopes a severe blow.

Bowl scouts have been following Michigan State from the starts with several in attendance when the Spartans picked up their lone win, a 44-3 drubbing of FCS opponent Montana State.

But the Spartans were stunned by longtime nemesis Central Michigan, who upset the Spartans 29-27 in East Lansing. State learned their lesson, coming out with emotion and passion on the road against Notre Dame, but with overtime looming at the 10-yard line of the Irish, Kirk Cousins threw a crushing interception that cost MSU any chance at victory.

Now today the resurgent Badgers are hoping to cement themselves as a Big Ten contender at the expense of the Spartans.

Look for an aerial show as both team are proficient in the passing game. The Spartans lead the Big Ten and rank 14th in the NCAA in passing offense, averaging 295.7 yards per game. Michigan State threw for 354 yards against Notre Dame – its highest single game total since Jeff Smoker passed for 357 yards in a 41-20 victory over Penn State in the 2003 regular-season finale.

Through three games, junior quarterback Scott Tolzien ranks second in the Big Ten in both completion percentage (47-of-68, 69.1 percent) and pass efficiency (161.8). Those are the best numbers for a Badger QB through the first three games of a season since Darrell Bevell completed 70.3 percent of his passes and had a pass effi ciency of 170.6 in 1993.

For Michigan State Junior linebacker Greg Jones continues to be the star of the defense and he leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth in the NCAA in tackles, averaging 12.7 stops per game. Jones also is listed among the Big Ten leaders in tackles for loss (tied for fifth at 1.5 per game). He leads the team in tackles (38 total), tackles for loss (4.5 for 19 yards) and production points (51).

For the Badgers, watch for Senior defensive end O'Brien Schofield who is tied for the NCAA lead in total TFLs this season with 7.5 through three games. He is also tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks with 2.5.

Freshman linebacker Chris Borland was named the Big Ten co-Special Teams player of the week after forcing a fumble on punt coverage (which led to a fi eld goal) and blocking a punt that resulted in a touchdown vs. Wofford.

One key stat in the Spartans favor, Michigan State is 4-1 (.800) in Big Ten openers vs. Wisconsin, including a 2-1 mark in games played in Camp Randall Stadium. The Spartans open Big Ten play against the Badgers for the second time in the last three years this afternoon.


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