INDIANAPOLIS -- Greetings from the inaugural Big Ten championship game, where No. 13 Michigan State will take on No. 15 Wisconsin for the right to face Oregon in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO.
It has been a fun two days here in Naptown, as fans of both teams and several others from the league have descended on the downtown area. Colleague Brian Bennett and I have encountered more Michigan State fans than Wisconsin fans, but both squads should be well represented in the stands. How many empty seats there are tonight should be a story as the secondary ticket market for the game has been soft.
We're indoors tonight, so weather won't be a factor.
Fortunately, the action on the field should be entertaining -- certainly better than what the Indianapolis Colts have done this season. Both Wisconsin and Michigan State are hot, having gone 4-0 in November after stumbling in Oct. 30 road games. Michigan State played the much cleaner ballgame in the teams' first meeting, committing no penalties, and the Spartans will need another disciplined effort tonight as they can't rely on Wisconsin to make as many mistakes as it did Oct. 22.
Both teams are relatively healthy. Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard (ankle) will return to the starting lineup opposite Johnny Adams. Wisconsin likely will be without starting center Peter Konz (ankle) for the third consecutive game, and Travis Frederick is expected to start in his place.
Two players to watch for each team:
Michigan State: receiver/return man Keshawn Martin, who has killed Wisconsin the past two seasons, and defensive end William Gholston, who was suspended for the teams' first meeting.
Wisconsin: running back Montee Ball, who had a huge month of November, and linebacker Chris Borland, who also finished strong and leads the team with 16.5 tackles for loss.
Should be a good one tonight. In case you missed our championship week coverage, check it out.
Much more to come from Lucas Oil.