The term must-win game is often overused in the world of sports, but in college football there are certain games that qualify as such. For Michigan State, the 2014 season will arrive with B1G and even National Championship aspirations. If the Spartans hope to achieve those lofty goals they will have almost no room for error, meaning they will have to to win some key games in order to keep up with expectations.
Here are the three games that are most vital to Michigan State having a successful season in 2014.
3. OCTOBER 4 vs. NEBRASKARegardless of the outcome of Michigan State’s week two matchup against Oregon, the Spartan’s first B1G game of the season will be crucial. If MSU manages to pull out a win against the Ducks, this game will be another step towards a possible undefeated season. If MSU falls to Oregon, then it becomes even more important because a loss to the Cornhuskers would then put the Spartans at 3-2 on the season–not quite the start the Spartan faithful is hoping for.
Aside from MSU’s overall record and national ranking, this game is a must-win because it will set the tone for the rest of the B1G season. In MSU’s disastrous 2012 season it lost it’s first B1G game of the season and ended the regular season at 6-6, barely making a bowl game. 2013 was a different story–MSU went into Iowa City and pulled out a 12-point victory in it’s first B1G game of the year, setting the table for an eventual undefeated B1G campaign.
The importance of the B1G season can’t be overstated. If MSU hopes to reach it’s goals in 2014 it will have to have a strong showing against B1G opponents, and that all starts against Nebraska in early October.
2. OCTOBER 25 vs. MICHIGAN
This will be the most important game of the year to almost every Spartan fan. There is nothing that Michigan State fans love more than beating Michigan. MSU could win the National Championship, but if it lost to Michigan earlier in the year fans wouldn’t be satisfied with the season–that’s how important this rivalry is.
MSU has won five of the last six meetings between these two, which has given Spartan fans the kind of bragging rights they haven’t had since Bubba Smith was around. MSU will have to continue dominating this series if it ever wants to get out of the shadow of Michigan. A loss to the team in blue would not only hurt the Spartan’s chances of returning to the B1G Championship Game for the third time in four years, but would also be a devastating blow to the Spartan fan base.
Michigan State goes into every season with one of it’s main goals being to beat Michigan. This season won’t be any different, but the Wolverines probably won’t be a big threat to win the East Division, so as far as being a must-win game is concerned the battle for the Paul Bunyon Trophy comes up just short of being the biggest game of the year.
1. NOVEMBER 8 vs. OHIO STATE
From the start of the season last year right up until the B1G Championship Game everyone and their brother believed Ohio State would win the B1G. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, Michigan State snapped their 24-game winning streak in the B1G Championship Game and OSU would end up losing to Clemson in the Orange Bowl, giving Urban Meyer his first two game losing streak as coach of the Buckeyes.
Despite the vastly different endings to these two team’s seasons last year, they will go into 2014 as the two favorites to win the conference–with most experts picking the Buckeyes.
Depending on how the rest of the season plays out before this game, it could very well be the game that decides who will represent the loaded East Division in the B1G Championship Game. For Michigan State, anything less than an appearance in Indianapolis will be considered a failure, making this game a must-win.
If MSU hopes to match it’s success from last season, these are the three games that it should already have circled on the schedule. If the Spartans drop any of these games, Mark Dantonio and company will surely not be feeling some type of way.
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