Those of you who have read OTE for more than a year know that I have a little bit of a tradition with food bets when it comes to bowl games. Two years in a row I've lost out on tasty bbq thanks to Northwestern's ineptitude in the post-season football field. And yet, I continue to make these bets despite knowing that I have little chance of success.
Well this time, this time I think I might just win. To commemorate the very first ever Big Ten championship game, MSULaxer and I have agreed to make a food/beer bet on the outcome. If you're new in town or just especially forgetful, the way these things work is that each of us puts some food product on the line that best represents our school or our state, and the loser ships the product to the winner.
It's a simple thing, really, but I've always found that it adds just a little something extra to watching the games as they play out. And, like I said, I think this year I actually have a decent shot at winning. That's because I think Wisconsin is going to come away with this one handily.
Given that I'm in the midst of finals here in my last year of law school, I was unable to contribute my prediction for the game to the staff predictions post in time. But, I agree with the lines and the commentator consensus -- Bucky will come away with this game. Now, that's not because I think the Spartans are a bad team.... far from it. They got to the championship game, right? So by virtue of that fact alone they're pretty good.
Oh and... they did beat my Badgers once before, so I guess I have to give that to them. But all the same, I subscribe to the idea that lightening can't possibly strike twice. And that's what happened in the first game. I'm not just talking about the Hail Mary pass to end it here, though of course that is an example...
There were also several other things that happened in that game that gave MSU the slight edge it needed to down the Badgers. And I just can't see all of these things happening at the same time again.
In the game against Bucky, Kirk Cousins happened to play one of the best football games he's had all season, looking at completion percentage, yardage, and TD-INT ratio. The only in conference games that have come close to that, stats wise, for him are against Indiana and Minnesota, not exactly the class of the conference.
Against Wisconsin, Michigan State was a perfect 1-for-1 on 4th down conversions and 8-16 on 3rd down conversions. They also weren't penalized for a single yard during the entire game. So, not only did Kirk Cousins have an amazing game, but the entire team, both offense and defense, played at an impeccable level.
In no other conference game this season have they played this well. Against Michigan, sure they had a 50% third down completion rate (and no 4th down conversion attempts) but they were also penalized thirteen times for 124 yards and committed two turnovers. Against Minnesota, Cousins threw for 296 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs, but the team was penalized five times and went just 4-for-13 on third down attempts. It's a similar story with their game against Iowa where Cousins also had strong numbers, but the team still went just 4-for-16 on third down conversions and was penalized seven times for 75 yards. Against Ohio State, penalized six times while going just 3-for-14 on third down conversions. Against Nebraska they also went just 3-for-14 on third down, and were penalized nine times. Even when they rolled Indiana they still drew five penalties and went 0-for-1 on 4th down.
Look, I'm not saying that Sparty won the first match-up against Wisconsin based solely on luck or what have you. That would be disingenuous, and would also ignore how poorly Wisconsin played in several facets of the game. But I am saying that a lot went right for Michigan State that night, and they still had to throw a Hail Mary to keep the game from going to overtime. It is difficult for me to believe that they could turn in a performance like that two times in a row.
And, anyway, I sure hope that I'm right because I really want to force MSULaxer to send me some delicious variety of Bell's beer... Of course, should I be wrong and my Badgers fail, I will be shipping him a selection of the finest Babcock Hall cheeses, which I'm sure will pair well with his finally justified feelings of conference superiority. Not like that's going to happen, though... right? I mean... it can't possibly happen twice, right?