Penn State in spoiler role with Michigan State
Penn State wide receiver Derek Moye on facing Michigan State Saturday: "... it's going to be big for us to go out there and pretty much ruin their season."
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LANDOVER, Md. -- Michigan State usually tries to ruin Penn State's postseason plans in the regular-season finale.
But Saturday the Nittany Lions and the Spartans will reverse roles at Beaver Stadium.
"It's definitely a big game," said wide receiver Derek Moye, from Rochester High School. "We were kind of scoreboard watching [Saturday] from the sideline. I was hoping they won so the game has some national implications for the BCS and the Big Ten championship.
"Even though it's not for us, it's going to be big for us to go out there and pretty much ruin their season."
Penn State (7-4, 4-3) is 8-0 against Big Ten Conference co-leader Michigan State (10-1, 6-1) at home since entering league play in 1993. The Lions, who beat Indiana, 41-24 Saturday, have a 13-4 overall edge against the Spartans during that stretch.
Michigan State's last victory at Beaver Stadium was in 1965, when Penn State was an independent. That was the year before Joe Paterno became Penn State's coach.
"It's huge," wide receiver and co-captain Brett Brackett said. "It's the last game of the year. It's Senior Day. Michigan State's one of the best teams in the conference and that's going to be a big challenge for us.
"They're a great football team, just seeing them on some of the film we've seen against [teams] we've played. We can't come with our heads down. We got to be ready to fight."
Penn State and Michigan State, ranked No. 11 in The Associated Press poll released Sunday, have combined to score 1,060 points in their 17 Big Ten meetings, an average of 62.3 points per game.
The Lions have scored 608 points (35.7 avg.) to 452 for the Spartans (26.6 avg.).
"It's big -- it's for our season," strong safety Drew Astorino said. "We need to win it. It will determine where we are going to go for our bowl game."
Penn State most likely will end up in the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl if the Big Ten has two BCS teams, which is expected.
But there is an outside chance the Lions could be selected for the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day in Tampa if they beat Michigan State to finish 8-4.
The Spartans rallied for 22 fourth-quarter points Saturday to beat Purdue, 35-31, and maintain a three-way tie for a share of the Big Ten championship and a spot in the Rose Bowl. No. 5 Wisconsin (10-1, 6-1) and No. 8 Ohio State (10-1, 6-1) are tied atop the standings with Michigan State.
If there is a three-way tie, the team with the best BCS ranking will earn the Big Ten's automatic Rose Bowl bid.
A two-way tie between Michigan State and Wisconsin would mean the Spartans, who beat the Badgers, 34-24, would go the Rose Bowl. Wisconsin would win a tiebreaker with Ohio State because the Badgers beat the Buckeyes, 31-18.
Penn State holds a 14-12-1 overall advantage against Michigan State in a series that began in 1914.
Brackett expects the Lions, who are 0-3 against Top 25 teams this season and 14-29 since 2000, to embrace their spoiler role.
"If we had a choice, we wouldn't be in [this position]," Brackett said. "But that's where we are right now and that's what we're going to have to do.
"We're going to have to go out and try to play a great football game and knock off a real good football team."
In 2008, Penn State whipped the Spartans at Beaver Stadium, 49-18, to clinch a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship and a Rose Bowl berth.
Daryll Clark threw for a career-high 341 yards and four touchdowns against Michigan State, and the Lions defense held running back Javon Ringer to a season-low 42 yards on a snowy, cold day.
Penn State and Michigan State will be in opposite divisions in 2011 and are not scheduled to meet the next two years.
"Me personally, I'm really excited about playing Michigan State," said right guard Stefen Wisniewski, from Central Catholic, who is one of only 11 seniors on the roster. "It's my last game at Beaver Stadium and I certainly don't want to go out with my last game being a loss.
"I think the team is going to be motivated as well."
Game: Penn State (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) vs. Michigan State (10-1, 6-1).
When: Noon Saturday.
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa.
TV: ESPN or ESPN2.
First Published November 22, 2010 12:00 am