The 2011 Big Ten championship game broke my heart.
I can still picture the official tossing the yellow flag while Keshawn Martin was in the process of returning a Wisconsin punt deep into Badger territory in the waning moments of the game, and knowing with a heavy heart that his long return was not only coming back, but the game was essentially over. I can also picture Russell Wilson, on fourth down, eluding MSU defenders like a matador and throwing a spectacular 36-yard pass to keep the winning Wisconsin drive alive. If MSU had stopped Wilson on that play, the Spartans probably could have sealed the victory. There were many "what-ifs" and "woulda coulda shoulda's" in that game. It took me days to get over the agony of that loss.
I don't want a return of that game. I don't know if my heart can take it. Of course, I've said that on countless occasions, but I always come back for more.
The thing about being a fan is that we always want our team to be successful no matter what. But the more successful ones team becomes, the higher the stakes. Now, MSU compiling an 11-1 record and the Big Ten Legends Division title isn't quite "good enough"--which is completely absurd. I would have been ecstatic if someone had told me, during the dark days of the Bobby Williams/John L. Smith era, that the day would soon come when the MSU football team would record three double-digit win seasons in four years and go to seven straight bowl games.
But it's just not enough. Gotta win that outright Big Ten title. But I have to keep in mind that, regardless the outcome of tonight's game, it's been a great season. This beats the hell out of the misery we Spartan fans have had to endure for far too many seasons.
I know I'm biased, but I see this game as a battle between what is right about college football versus what is wrong with the game. I don't like Urban Meyer, as I've already mentioned in this blog. He seems just a little shady and at least somewhat ethically challenged, not to mention arrogant. I see a Michigan State victory as proof that a team can win with players that were overlooked as high school recruits. Proof that hard work and a team concept (MSU) can overcome an athletic budget equal to the GNP of some small nations and a team loaded with 4 and 5 star players (OSU).
And then there are the Ohio State fans. I'm sure there are some out there who are intelligent and reasonable, but I have yet to encounter many of them. Most seem completely maniacal and almost comically arrogant with little to no knowledge of any school or team beyond their beloved Buckeyes.
So let me conclude this post by imploring the football gods to smile down upon the Spartans tonight. How much longer must be suffer? Isn't 26 years long enough to wait for an outright Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth? Can you please throw us a bone? Thank you in advance...and as always, Go Green!