Unlike in years past, it is far from a foregone conclusion that Michigan State will be playing in a late December or January bowl game, or a bowl game at all, for that matter. But sitting at 3-1 and 1-0 in conference after their Week 5 win over Iowa, MSU is in a position to earn a postseason.
According to our very own SB Nation projections, the Spartans are going to reach a bowl game – but not to the program’s home-away-from-home in Florida. Instead, the projections are sending Michigan State to New York for the Pinstripe Bowl against Virginia Tech.
It’s a little hard to know how to take a prediction like this. On one hand, with three wins and a very difficult Big Ten East schedule ahead, even getting to a bowl game is anything but a sure thing right now for Michigan State. As it sits, the team will have to win at least one conference road game, and that’s assuming a huge upset win over Penn State at Spartan Stadium.
Along those same lines, playing a team like Virginia Tech in a bowl game is nothing to sneeze at. That’s a Big 5 opponent who is playing well early in the season.
But at the same time, no matter how hard it gets pushed, the Pinstripe Bowl is just not a desired destination. Sending the team to New York in the middle of the winter to play on a gimmicky field sounds less like an award and more like an early-season basketball game.
Making things look even worse for Michigan State in a northern bowl game, the Big Ten fills up the big games of the season. Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan are all predicted to play in New Year’s Six games while Wisconsin is slated to earn a playoff spot.
The Spartans still have plenty of opportunities to earn a better bowl game, and beating Michigan this week on the road would be an amazing start.