Michigan State Holiday Wish List 2018: Wish No. 7 for Spartan fans

Michigan State football helmet (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)
Michigan State football helmet (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images) /

Michigan State’s 25 wishes list continues today and throughout this week. What is the No. 7 wish for all Spartan fans?

Here is wish No. 7 on our Michigan State fan wish list as we count down to wish No. 1.

Wish No. 7

Michigan State football will be the Big Ten East Division champions in 2019.

For those who are thinking this may be a little bit of wishful thinking due to the letdown of this season and the lack of necessary changes needed to compete in what will appear to be a very competitive Big Ten East divisional race in 2019, we shall see.

As we head that much closer to Wish No. 1, expected the wishes to be about what Spartans fan really want heading into 2019 more than expecting it to actually come true. Now, let’s explain how this wish has a little bit more of a decent chance of coming true.

The Big Ten started having divisions with a conference championship game starting in 2011. Let’s look at the history of division championships in the Big Ten for Michigan State and stare into the future of the possibility of another division championship in 2019.

Looking at the history under head coach Mark Dantonio in conference play from 2011 and on, the Spartans have laid claim to a Big Ten divisional title for the seasons of 2011, 2013 and most recently in 2015. However, in the last three seasons, Michigan State has finished in sixth, tied for second and fourth place, respectively, in the Big Ten East.

In 2019, the Spartans look to once again earn a division title but it won’t be easy.

Dantonio has regular season conference titles as one of his team’s goals before the season starts and since the formation of divisions in 2011, no Big Ten teams with the exception of Ohio State and Wisconsin have come close to as many divisional titles as Michigan State has had. The Spartans once again look to bring back a good amount of starters as well as others who gained valuable playing time this season for the 2019 slate.

Even though it seems like a long period of time without a division title for the Spartans, many Big Ten teams since 2011 have not even won one division title. Teams like Michigan, Purdue, Maryland, Rutgers, Illinois, Minnesota and Indiana have a combined zero divisional titles since 2011. Nebraska, Iowa, and Northwestern only have one divisional title each. Michigan State looks for its fourth divisional title in 2019 and their schedule should be more favorable than this season and there are some reasons why.

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Four out of the first five games are at home. The one road game is at Northwestern, which some would consider not a true road game due to the high amount of Spartans fans in the Chicago area which is not a far drive from Evanston.

Second, unlike this season, Michigan State will not have to open up its playbook as it had to against a surprisingly good Utah State team a tough road opponent in Arizona State early in the season.

Third, the Spartans could easily be 5-0 heading into October before a showdown at Ohio State. Confidence as well as being healthy were both major issues for this season’s Michigan State team but, if they can go down to Columbus undefeated with a lot of confidence and even more importantly healthy, a victory against the Buckeyes will go a long way toward their hope for a division title.

Fourth, playing Wisconsin on the road as opposed to playing an up-and-coming high-powered offense in Purdue is a much better matchup. Even playing Illinois next season instead of traveling to Lincoln, Neb., to play the Cornhuskers is a better matchup as well for the Spartans. You add in not having to visit Penn State and Maryland, Michigan State will have far less miles to travel next season with the only far away game being against Rutgers which should easily be a victory for the Spartans.

Lastly, let’s face facts here when talking about playing Michigan. Since 2015, Michigan State is 2-0 in Ann Arbor and 0-2 in East Lansing against the Wolverines. The Spartans traveling to Ann Arbor ironically may be a blessing in disguise similar to traveling to play Northwestern where the Wildcats have a three-game winning streak when playing the Spartans in East Lansing. Michigan State has won five out of the last six in Evanston, in comparison.

Next season’s schedule, in my opinion, will be more suitable for the Spartans on their quest for a fourth divisional title.

This past season, the Big Ten was not perceived to be as good as it was compared to other past seasons. Ohio State did not have that look and feel of a consistent team but except for a double-digit road loss to Purdue, it beat its opponents on their way to a division and Big Ten title.

I strongly believe that the 2019 Michigan State team can be the best team in the Big Ten East. It may not be pretty like with what Ohio State had done this year but winning the Big Ten East is rarely an easy task. However, they must stay healthy overall and must have more production from the run game and especially from quarterback play.

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As we once again head closer to Wish No. 1, these wishes will get much better in terms of the vast majority of the fanbase wanting the wish to come true rather than actually expecting a high percentage of these wishes to come true. Now, let’s hope that this wish has a chance — yes a chance — of coming true.