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Michigan State Bowl Game Possibilities: The unlikely destinations

October 29, 2019
<p>Redshirt senior quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) prepares to take a snap during the game against Penn State on Oct. 26, 2019 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Nittany Lions, 28-7.</p>

Redshirt senior quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) prepares to take a snap during the game against Penn State on Oct. 26, 2019 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans fell to the Nittany Lions, 28-7.

Photo by Matt Schmucker | The State News

With a month of football left Michigan State still has tons of work to do. Sitting at 4-4, the Spartans need to split two of its final four games (vs. Illinois, at Michigan, at Rutgers, vs. Maryland) to get bowl eligible for the 12th time in Mark Dantonio's tenure.

Michigan State is off this week before beginning the final leg of its regular season against the Fighting Illini on Nov. 6 (3:30 p.m., FS1).

In recent years, the Spartans have traveled all over the country for postseason play, including Santa Clara, San Diego, Arlington, Pasadena and Tempe, Arizona.

The State News takes a look at potential bowl game destinations, the likelihood the Spartans reach there and potential opponents. But first, MSU needs to win two more games.

Rose Bowl

"The Granddaddy of Them All" has historically pitted the Big Ten Conference champion and the PAC-12 conference champ against each other on New Year's Day when the game is not tied into the College Football Playoff. Sitting three games back behind Ohio State for the lead in the Big Ten East Division, the chances the Spartans can reach The Rose Bowl for the fifth time in school history is slim to none. It would take tons of chaos and a perfect final month of the year for Michigan State to find a way to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game in order to play for the right to go to Pasadena.

Location and Date: Pasadena, California; Jan. 1, 2020 at 5 p.m. (ESPN)

Tie-Ins: Big Ten vs. PAC-12

Recent Matchups: 2019 No. 5 Ohio State (28) vs No. 9 Washington (23); 2018 CFP No. 3 Georgia (54) vs No. 2 Oklahoma (48); 2017 No. 9 USC (52) vs. No. 5 Penn State (49); 2016 No. 5 Stanford (45) vs. No. 6 Iowa (16); 2015 CFP No. 3 Oregon (59) vs. No. 2 Florida State (20)

Michigan State History: 1954 vs UCLA, win 28-20; 1956 vs UCLA, win 17-14; 1966 vs UCLA , loss 14-12; 1988 vs USC, win 20-17; 2014 vs Stanford, win 24-20

Likelihood of happening: 0%

Potential opponents:

The seventh-ranked Oregon Ducks have separated themselves as one of the clear favorites in the PAC-12. The Ducks hold a three-game lead in their division, while No. 9 Utah and USC are tied at 4-1 in the Pac-12 South.

Holiday Bowl:

The Spartans finished off their 10-win 2017 season with a blowout win over Washington State, which built up tons of optimism heading into 2018. But it's unlikely the Spartans will head back out to California due to its record and conference bowl game rules.

The Big Ten is in agreement with the Holiday Bowl that the conference will send five different teams in six years, if possible. So Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern and Wisconsin are not eligible.

Location: San Diego, California; Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. (FS1)

Tie-Ins: Big Ten vs PAC-12

Recent Matchups: 2018 Northwestern (31) vs. No. 20 Utah (20); 2017 No. 19 Michigan State (42) vs. No. 21 Washington State (17); 2016 Minnesota (17) vs. Washington State (12); 2015 No. 23 Wisconsin (23) vs. USC (21); 2014 No. 24 USC (45) vs No. 25 Nebraska (42)

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Michigan State History: 2017 vs Washington State, win 42-17

Likelihood of happening: 0%

Potential opponents:

With Oregon or Utah heading to the Rose Bowl, the Holiday Bowl will most likely pick a PAC-12 team that hasn't been there in a while. In steps Washington and Arizona State. The Huskies haven't been to San Diego since 2010 while the Sun Devils haven't played in the Holiday Bowl since 2013.

Redbox Bowl:

With the trajectory of Michigan State's season, the Redbox Bowl would be a likely destination — if the Spartans didn't play in the game last season. But just like the Holiday Bowl, Michigan State will not play in Santa Clara, if possible. The agreement with the Big Ten is for five different teams in six years. So, Michigan State, Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska and Purdue are not eligible.

Location: Santa Clara, California; Dec. 30 at 4 p.m. (FOX)

Tie-Ins: Big Ten vs. PAC-12

Recent Matchup: 2018 Oregon (7) vs Michigan State (6); 2017 Purdue (38) vs Arizona (35); 2016 Utah (26) vs Indiana (24); 2015 Nebraska (37) vs UCLA (29); 2014 Stanford (45) vs Maryland (21)

Michigan State History: 2018 vs. Oregon, loss 7-6

Likelihood of happening: 0%

Potential Opponents:

The Redbox Bowl will be a game between teams that will fight to be bowl eligible in the final month of this season. In terms of the PAC-12, there are many viable options. Though USC is sitting at 5-3, a bad final month of the season could have the Trojans playing in Santa Clara. Stanford and Arizona are two teams at 4-4, who could slip into the bowl game as well.


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