Dec. 1, 2013
By Steve Grinczel, MSUSpartans.com Online Columnist | | @GrinzOnGreen
EAST LANSING, Mich. - After Michigan State lost to Wisconsin in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis, Isaiah Lewis had to question the old adage, "there's no place like home."
It was Lewis' running-into-the-kicker penalty that short-circuited the Spartans' shot to pull out a last-minute win at Lucas Oil Stadium, which is just a 15-minute drive from where he grew up.
The senior strong safety suffered no lingering effects during the two years that have passed since that 42-38 defeat. Nevertheless, Lewis is looking forward to prove that you can go home again when MSU plays Ohio State in the title game next Saturday.
"I just want to go back and win this game," Lewis said. "I had a bad taste in my mouth two years ago. It didn't go how I wanted it to go and bad things happened. I don't want to have a replay of that, and I'm confident in my team that we're going to do our job.
"People only remember the last thing you do, and that last play was kind of bad for me."
Michigan State (11-1, 8-0 Big Ten) closed in on a Bowl Championship Series bid by beating Minnesota, 14-3, in Saturday's regular-season finale at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans are guaranteed no less than a trip to the Rose Bowl if they beat the Buckeyes.
The game will be promoted as matchup of strength-versus-strength: MSU's nation-leading defense against Ohio State's league-leading offense. While Michigan State was beating the Golden Gophers, the Buckeyes held on for a 42-41 win at Michigan.
Lewis, an Indianapolis Ben Davis High School graduate, is looking forward to the challenge.
"We ain't done yet," he said. "We're going to keep on pushing. The sky's the limit for us and I feel like there's nothing our defense can't do. We've got two games ahead of us, so we're going to go out and do what we do and try to dominate.
"I've been wanting to go back there, but we never really talk about it because I don't want it to be selfish. I don't want it to be just about me. I want it about the team, us getting back there. In the end, it's about all of us. I don't go out on the field and play by myself and win games."
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard is also looking forward to putting MSU's credentials as the Big Ten's top pass-efficiency defense, prior to playing Minnesota, on the line against Ohio State's pass offense, which was first in the league in passing efficiency.
"I'm pretty happy about that," said the Jim Thorpe Award finalist. "It's another big stage for our defense to go out there and shine and I'm really excited about it. It's a great offense and they've got a lot of good players who do a good job.
"This is a chance to show the country how dominant we can be."