Sitting on five wins, the Michigan State Spartans want what the Gophers already have: bowl eligibility.
The Spartans will visit TCF Bank Stadium with a 5-6 record overall, one shy of eligibility. They will be playing for their season, having lost two straight games to Nebraska and Northwestern.
On the other side of the field, Minnesota will be playing for their veteran players on Senior Day and with a chance to play spoiler against a team that has beat them the last two years.
The last time the Gophers beat Michigan State, it was also the last time Minnesota went to a bowl game. That was in 2009 with the score being 42-34 in the inaugural season of TCF Bank Stadium.
Despite Michigan State’s lackluster record, they have played a tougher schedule, including bouts with Boise State, Notre Dame and Ohio State.
The entire Gopher defense will have their hands full dealing with Spartan running back Le’Veon Bell, a junior who has rushed for more than 100 yards six times this season, including two 200 yard games.
Bell is Michigan State’s workhorse back, having rushed at least 30 times in a game five times this year.
Expect senior MarQueis Gray to get some favorable playing time in his final game in front of the home crowd. Last week, in a loss to Nebraska, Gray was behind center for the first time since converting to receiver, rushing for two touchdowns.
The two touchdowns scored by Gray were the only points the Gophers scored in that game, but it goes to show that Gray is a talent that Minnesota will be unfortunate to lose.