Michigan State came a few plays away -- or one non-call -- from facing Oregon in the 2012 Rose Bowl.
Those folks hoping to see a Spartans-Ducks matchup will be pleased with Tuesday's news. Michigan State has finalized a home-and-home series with Oregon for 2014 and 2015. The series replaces a Spartans home-and-home against West Virginia, which needed to get out of the agreement to create flexibility during its move from the Big East to the Big 12.
Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis made the announcement via Twitter.
The Spartans will visit Oregon on Sept. 13, 2014, and host the Ducks the following year on Sept. 12.
Michigan State has marquee nonconference games scheduled with Boise State (2012, 2022-23), Oregon (2014-15), Alabama (2016-17) and Miami (2020-21), in addition to an annual matchup against longtime rival Notre Dame that will take breaks in 2014-15, 2020-21 and 2025-26.
That's about as strong a nonconference schedule as you'll find in today's college football. Hollis and Michigan State have set the standard in the Big Ten, which is quickly shedding its reputation for soft nonconference scheduling. Credit MSU for replacing West Virginia with an even higher quality opponent in Oregon, which has surged under coach Chip Kelly.
The announcement also reinforces the Big Ten's scheduling partnership with the Pac-12. Although the partnership doesn't fully begin until 2017, series like Michigan State-Oregon and Northwestern-Stanford, announced an extension last week, show both leagues are willing to beef up their non-league slates.
"The series provides MSU alums on the West Coast with an opportunity to see the Spartans compete against one of the nation’s outstanding football programs," Hollis said in a prepared statement. "The relationship between the Big Ten and Pac-12 is built on common values and the Rose Bowl. We also look forward to bringing the Ducks back to Spartan Stadium, as we continue to compete for championships and national exposure."
Michigan State will have some excellent opportunities in the coming seasons to make statements on the national stage. The first arrives Aug. 31 against Boise State.
MSU's marquee nonconference opponents
Boise State: 2012 (home), 2022 (road), 2023 (home)
Oregon: 2014 (road), 2015 (home)
Alabama: 2016 (road), 2017 (home)
Miami: 2020 (home), 2021 road)
Notre Dame: annually except 2014-15, 2020-21 and 2025-26