Who would have thought of it? We’re talking Michigan, the team that more often has to show up and are automatically guaranteed a 9-win season. Now people are wondering if they’ll win four.
Last year against Appalachian State (which, as I wrote about last year around this time) wasn’t as big a loss as this. Appalachian State has a history of championship winning, and could almost be considered a 1-A (Bowl Division for you up-to-datists) team playing a 1-AA (Tournament Division). Toledo is not even a top-half MAC team (at least Central Michigan was considered a good team when they beat Michigan State twice).
While I’m an MSU fan and alumnus, I must say things are a bit odd. We’re talking about a team I’ve long been used to seeing higher up in the standings. MSU has been lucky to get looked at for a bowl, whereas Michigan planned their vacations for AFTER New Years. We’re talking nearly seven years since the last MSU victory over Michigan, and almost eighteen years since MSU beat Michgian at The Big House™.
But right now, Michigan is 1 1/2 games behind Michigan State in conference, 3 1/2 games behind them overall. Right now, for Michigan to come out ahead of MSU in the overall standings MSU would have to lose 4 of 5 AND Michigan would have to win out. MSU could lose 4 of 5 (the rest of their schedule IS the cream of the B10 crop, Michigan to the contrary) but Michigan winning out would have to be a miracle (OSU and PSU are going to be beasts, and Northwestern and MSU will be tough).
Now I’m cautious. Even with Victories against U of M, Michigan State has found ways to finish behind U of M in the standings for nearly 40 years. 1987 was probably the best chance with a lossless season in the Big Ten, but they played and lost to Notre Dame and Florida State (and tied to Iowa) that year. Besides, with MSU’s season usually tougher in the back part, MSU fans are used to having their hopes lowered towards the end of the season.
So I’m a bit cautious. And hopeful. At least this year we have a good chance of finishing good.