When the new Big Ten schedules were announced a year ago, Michigan State was one of the teams that seemed to get the short end of the stick. The Spartans were tasked with a daunting month of October that included a stretch of games against Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Very few people expected MSU to make it through this stretch of games unscathed, but the Spartans can do just that with a win on Saturday.
Following their stunning victory over Wisconsin, the Spartans have to turn their focus to Nebraska, a fellow member of the Big Ten's Legends Division. The Cornhuskers, like the Spartans, are 6-1 this season. Unlike the Spartans, Nebraska has one loss in the conference -- a blowout at the hands of Wisconsin. Considering Michigan State is 3-0 in the Big Ten, Nebraska needs a win on Saturday if it wants any shot at making the first ever Big Ten title game.
Michigan State is already starting to pull away from the Legends Division. The Spartans are the clear frontrunners after beating Wisconsin, and a win on Saturday against Nebraska would make it tough for any team to unseat them from first place. Not only would the Spartans have a two-game lead on Nebraska, but they would also hold the tiebreaker against the 'Huskers. Nebraska would need a perfect rest of the season and three MSU losses to make it to the Big Ten title game if the Spartans win on Saturday.
Of course, both Michigan and Iowa have only one loss in the Big Ten as well, but MSU already holds the tiebreaker against the Wolverines. The Spartans take on the Hawkeyes in the second week of November in what really will be their final real test of the season after Saturday's game. This is why beating Nebraska is so important. With a win, MSU could conceivably cruise to Indianapolis considering the rest of its schedule includes games against Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana and Northwestern. There aren't many challenges beyond Saturday, and if MSU completes its difficult October test, it will be on the fast track to Indy and perhaps even Pasadena.