After all the good, Michigan State’s bad puts it in a tough spot

Michigan State Spartans center John Stipek (R) is consoled by a teammate while sitting on the bench during the second half of the Capital One Bowl college football game against the Alabama Crimson Tide in Orlando, Florida, January 1, 2011. REUTERS/Phelan M. Ebenhack (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Before the month of October started, Michigan State was staring at a brutal conference gauntlet of four straight games against Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Somehow, the Spartans found a way to win those first three, pushing themselves near the top 10 of the BCS rankings and taking control of the Big Ten Legends Division.

But with today’s loss to Nebraska, the Spartans and their very respectable 3-1 record during the month, need help to get to the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis.

It’s a cruel fate for a team that found different ways to win against three of the Big Ten’s top six teams, and somehow was able to get emotionally ready to play all three of them. Apparently four is too much to ask for, however, as the Spartans — especially offensively — looked listless in the loss.

Kirk Cousins was terrible, the run game was non-existent and the defense was tired from spending most of the game on the field after the offense yet again failed to do anything.

So now Nebraska is in the Legends driver’s seat, holding the head-to-head tie-breaker against MSU and having the luxury of its one conference loss (at Wisconsin) coming outside of the division. The road is not easy, however, as Nebraska finishes the season at home against Northwestern, at Michigan, at Penn State and at home against Iowa. With as erratic as the Nebraska offense is, any one of those games is losable.

Michigan State’s road wasn’t a guarantee, but it was much easier than Nebraska’s, they substitute Michigan and Penn State for Indiana and Minnesota, the conference’s two worst teams.

It’s amazing how quickly the euphoria from a miracle last-second win against an unbeaten, top 10 opponent can wear off in college football. But I suppose that’s part of the reason we all love it so much.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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