Nov 30, 2011

Big Ten Championship Game is the Capital One Bowl Game of the Week

This season, pick who you think will win the Capital One Bowl Game of the Week and WIN! Answer the question on the Capital One Bowl Facebook page before Saturday’s game. If you pick correctly, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win two tickets to the Capital One Bowl on January 2, 2012!

Michigan State leads series 29-21 (last meeting: Oct. 22, 2011: Michigan State 37, Wisconsin 31)

The inaugural Big Ten Championship Game will feature a welcome rematch from the regular season as Michigan State and Wisconsin meet again in Indianapolis. The first showdown was perhaps the most memorable conference game of the season, as a 44-yard Hail Mary pass from Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins bounced into the hands of his former backup Keith Nichol for the winning score as time expired. The loss crushed the Badgers’ hopes for a BCS National Championship Game appearance and set both teams on a collision course for a “double or nothing” showdown with the Big Ten’s Rose Bowl berth on the line.

One year after being left out of the BCS due to final rankings, the Spartans have an opportunity to play their way in after another special season. Michigan State beat Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin all in the same month this season and can win their first outright conference championship since 1987. That success is possible thanks to Cousins, a senior in his third season as a starter. After some struggles as a sophomore, Cousins has guided the Spartans to a 21-4 record over the past two seasons. He and a trio of senior receivers – Nichol, B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin – have given Michigan State one of the best passing offenses in the conference, averaging 244.7 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, the MSU defense is the best in the Big Ten, holding opponents to just over 100 yards per game (102.5). The Spartans will need to bottle Badgers running back Montee Ball, who went for 115 yards and a score in East Lansing on Oct. 22.

Wisconsin will be out for more than a Rose Bowl appearance in Indy. In each of the past two seasons, losses to Michigan State spoiled the Badgers’ undefeated record and their chances to play for the first national championship in program history.  Many thought this would be the Badgers’ year after quarterback Russell Wilson transferred from NC State to fill UW’s only glaring hole. With Wilson under center and Ball in the backfield, the Badgers looked nearly unstoppable in their first six games. The Badgers led the Spartans by 14 after one quarter in East Lansing, but surrendered 23 straight in the second quarter en route to the eventual loss. Ball, a dark horse Heisman contender, leads trophy frontrunner Trent Richardson of Alabama in both yards (1622 to 1583) and touchdowns (29 to 20) and accounts for a third of the Badgers’ conference-leading offensive output. 

Extra point: In the series, Wisconsin has never lost when scoring more than 28 points…until the loss this regular season. The Badgers average 44.8 points per game and have not scored less than 28 points this year.

Expert Picks

Michel Champagne Michel Champagne currently serves as Chairman of Florida Citrus Sports, where his duties include leading Team Selection Committee. He is the Vice President of Operations and General Manager, Orlando Region for Bright House Networks.
Pick: Wisconsin
Season Record: 15-7
Greg Warmoth Greg Warmoth spent 11 years as the weekend sports anchor for WFTV Channel 9 in Orlando before switching to the news desk in 1997. He currently anchors Eyewitness News Daybreak, Eyewitness News This Morning on TV-27 and Eyewitness News at Noon.
Pick: Michigan State

Season Record: 14-8
Marc Daniels Marc Daniels hosts The Beat Of Sports on ESPN 1080 AM in Orlando every weekday morning from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Daniels has over 20 years of experience on the air and is most well known as “the Voice of the UCF Knights” for all football, men’s basketball and baseball games on the UCF ISP Sports Network.
Pick: Wisconsin

Season Record: 15-7
Jerry Greene Jerry Greene spent 33 years as a sportswriter at Florida Today, the Pensacola News Journal and the Orlando Sentinel before retiring in 2009. He now co-hosts The Beat of Sports with Daniels and contributes to’s Page 2 section.
Pick: Wisconsin
Season Record: 7-15


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