WHAT'S AT STAKE A lot. Michigan State can take a big step toward representing the Legends Division in the conference championship game, where the Spartans would be a win away from playing in the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1987 season. Michigan must win the rest of its games to guarantee a spot in the Big Ten title game on Dec. 7 in Indianapolis, where college football's winningest team would play for its first conference championship since 2004.
KEY MATCHUP The interior of Michigan's offense line against Michigan State defensive tackle Tyler Hoover, linebackers Denicos Allen and Max Bullough. The Wolverines plan to start a fourth combination in five games with freshman Kyle Bosch making his first start at left guard next to redshirt sophomore Graham Glasgow at center and redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson at right guard. Hoover (six), Allen (five) and Bullough (four) have been in college for a combined 15 seasons.
PLAYERS TO WATCH Michigan: QB Devin Gardner. His right arm and feet give the Wolverines their best chance on offense against a defense that is giving up just 215.5 yards overall and 54.9 yards rushing to rank No. 1 in major college football and 12.3 points per game. Coach Brady Hoke would rather have Gardner hand off to RB Fitzgerald Toussaint often to prevent him from taking too many hits, but Michigan's coach might not have a choice.
Michigan State: QB Connor Cook. He took advantage of an open competition at the pivotal position by making plays and limiting mistakes as a starter over the last seven games. Cook has completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,238 yards with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions this season.
FACTS & FIGURES The Wolverines won last year's game 12-10 on Brendan Gibbons' 38-yard field goal with 5 seconds left to avoid a school-record, five-game losing streak to the Spartans. ... Michigan hasn't won in East Lansing since 2007 when former running back Mike Hart infamously referred to Michigan State as a "little brother" in the postgame news conference.