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Report: MSU football will be in Big Ten East

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Reid Compton-US PRESSWIRE

It looks like the hope most had will not come true.

According to Adam Rittenberg at ESPN, there isn't any more talk of MSU football being in the Big Ten west division. The new divisions will be split geographically, but one of Indiana or Purdue will be in the west. The divisions will be as follows:

East:
Michigan
Michigan State
Ohio State
Penn State
Rutgers
Maryland
Indiana/Purdue

West:
Wisconsin
Nebraska
Minnesota
Iowa
Northwestern
Illinois
Indiana/Purdue

Now, no matter how you split the Indiana schools, the east division would appear to be much better than the west. Indiana/Purdue will be the only protected crossover game.

For MSU, the hope was to stay in the easier west division. That would also keep MSU in the Chicago market and continue the #BorderBattle with Wisconsin. Instead, it looks like the Land-Grant Trophy will be back to an annual thing. The New York market is open for MSU, I guess, which means little. (It's big for Michigan).

For recruiting, it means MSU needs to step up its game big time. You have to beat Michigan *and* Ohio State in the standings to reach the Big Ten championship game. Those programs aren't both going to be down at the same time. Throw in a Penn State program that might not fade into oblivion like we initially though and a decent Rutgers program, and it's a tall order. I was fine with MSU fighting with Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa while letting U-M/OSU fight out for the other division (while making MSU/U-M a protected crossover).

Instead, MSU is in a division with two of the nation's biggest football programs. The only two in the Big Ten who pay and can recruit like the SEC. MSU has picked up its recruiting game in Wisconsin. Does MSU pull out a little bit without the ability to sell two games in your home state? MSU has done some recent recruiting in Pennsylvania. That will have pick up. And they have to get better players.

MSU has made a living under Dantonio being able to compete with the big boys from time to time while sometimes avoiding them on the schedule. Not anymore. MSU will be directly compared to Michigan and Ohio State, and it will have to measure up.

With the coming playoff and division changes, the 2013 season might be MSU's last chance to get a traditional Rose Bowl. Maybe they'll change things again when the Big Ten goes to 16 teams.