A year ago, Michigan State took an 8-0 record into its game against Iowa. The Spartans had hopes of a trip to the Rose Bowl or perhaps even the BCS national title game, but those dreams were dashed in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes put a beating on MSU en route to a 37-6 victory. While MSU still won a share of the Big Ten title, there would be no trip to the Rose Bowl or one of the other BCS games.
This year, Michigan State controls its own destiny. Forget about a three-way tie for the conference title and tiebreakers involving teams that didn't even play deciding which team gets the trip to the Rose Bowl. With the Big Ten now having two divisions and a conference title game, the champion truly will be determined on the field.
For the Spartans, the recipe for a championship and a Rose Bowl is simple: win four games. MSU has three games left on the regular season schedule: at Iowa, vs. Indiana and at Northwestern. Upsets are always possible, as the scare against Minnesota last week showed, but if MSU can get past Iowa on Saturday, it has a very good chance of winning the Legends Division and moving one win away from a trip to Pasadena. Of course, Northwestern, which just upset Nebraska, could provide a tough test, but MSU is in great shape considering it is the only Legends team with one loss in the conference.
For Iowa, this game is just as important. The Hawkeyes took down Michigan at home last week, keeping their hopes of making the Big Ten title game alive. Despite losing to Minnesota just two weeks ago, Iowa controls its own destiny since it plays MSU on Saturday and also has a game against Nebraska the final week of the season. If the Hawkeyes win out, they will represent the Legends Division in the Big Ten title game. If they lose on Saturday, however, chances are Michigan State will run away with the division.
Kickoff is set for noon (Eastern). ESPN2 will have the broadcast.