Honestly, we shouldn't be having this discussion. Michigan State shouldn't have had to get back in the playoff picture. But, the gods of college football chaos inexplicably shined down on the Cornhuskers to give the Spartans their sole loss of the season.Michigan State's resume, sans the Nebraska loss, is definitely playoff material. They took down a good Oregon team -- admit it, the Ducks with Vernon Adams are a completely different team -- and took down both of their arch-rivals in dramatic, last-minute fashion after having not led at any point during the games.
You can say what you want about Big Ten conference strength outside of the top three, but continuous winning is hard. And, the Spartans have wins over the other B1G titans and a quality out-of-conference win. But, the Nebraska misstep is what's currently keeping Michigan State out of the Top Four.
Iowa, who I obviously think is a quality football team, has the distinction of being the last Big Ten undefeated and, therefore, gets the pollsters vote for probable conference champ and the playoff spot vacated by the Buckeyes.
But, the Hawkeyes haven't been tested the way the Spartans have. Iowa has faced one ranked team and will not see Michigan, Ohio State or Michigan State, until the conference title game, at least.
The Big Ten Championship game should be a solid, even matchup on the gridiron, with the winner securing a playoff spot. The Hawkeyes and Spartans are true teams, units whose successes are based on the work of the team as a whole as opposed to breakout stars.
But, where the two differ may be where the conference championship lies, which takes me back to State's rivalry wins.
The Michigan State Miracle and Michael Geiger's 41-yard game winning field goal. Last second scores against arch-rivals in games where the Spartans never held a lead. It all has an air of -- dare I say -- destiny.
Sure, it's a trope, it can't be quantified and I could certainly be wrong. But, hear me out: Michigan State, a team with no breakout stars tops its in-state rival, equipped with the returning Jim Harbaugh, in a way that people immediately described as miraculous. Soon after, that same team defeats the defending national champs, whose roster is packed with nothing but big names, on a last second field goal from a distance their kicker only hits 50 percent of the time. That's out of a storybook.
And, I obviously like Iowa, I really do. But, Michigan State is going to win the Big Ten.
It's their destiny.