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Monday, June 4, 2012
Most important game: Michigan State

By Adam Rittenberg

It's time to continue our series looking at the most important game on the 2012 schedule for each Big Ten squad. As a reminder, these are games that will have the biggest impact on the league race or hold special meaning for one of the teams involved.

To see the entire series so far, click here.

Up next, the defending Legends Division champion Michigan State Spartans.

Most important game: Oct. 20 at Michigan

Why it's important: This selection shouldn't surprise those who saw our pick for Michigan's toughest game. The Oct. 20 matchup at the Big House looks like the Big Ten's premier game entering 2012, as it will pair what should be the league's two highest-ranked teams entering the fall. The rivalry component certainly adds to the magnitude of the game, as does the division component. Michigan State plays four marquee teams -- Boise State, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Nebraska -- at Spartan Stadium, where it hasn't lost a game since Nov. 21, 2009. While a home sweep would be impressive, Michigan State can take a big step toward a return to Indianapolis and the Big Ten championship game by winning in Ann Arbor. It would be a division road win and it would hand Michigan a division home loss. Even if the Spartans lost to Ohio State, they would be in the driver's seat in the division if they win their next three, culminating with the Michigan game. A loss to the Wolverines would put a lot of pressure on Michigan State to sweep its Big Ten home schedule, as the Spartans have another tough road game at Wisconsin. Michigan State has won four straight against its in-state rival, and a victory would mark the Spartans' third straight at Michigan Stadium, something they haven't done since a six-game win streak between 1956-67.