Sports

Defending B10 champ Spartans are on roll but know success not given with Ohio St. in division

  • FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2013, file photo,  Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook yells in celebration after scoring a touchdown against Michigan during an NCAA college football game, in East Lansing, Mich. Cook finished the 2013 season strong, throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns against Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game and for a career-high 332 yards and two TDs against Stanford while being named Offensive MVP of the Rose Bowl. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

    FILE - In this Nov. 2, 2013, file photo, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook yells in celebration after scoring a touchdown against Michigan during an NCAA college football game, in East Lansing, Mich. Cook finished the 2013 season strong, throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns against Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game and for a career-high 332 yards and two TDs against Stanford while being named Offensive MVP of the Rose Bowl. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -In this Nov 2, 2013, file photo, Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock warms up before an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, in Iowa City, Iowa. Rudock passed for 2,383 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 218 yards and five scores for Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

    FILE -In this Nov 2, 2013, file photo, Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock warms up before an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, Saturday, in Iowa City, Iowa. Rudock passed for 2,383 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushed for 218 yards and five scores for Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2013, file photo, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller throws a pass against Michigan State during the Big Ten Conference championship NCAA college football game in Indianapolis. Miller was the first  Big Ten MVP winner in 24 years after he threw for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 TDs. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

    FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2013, file photo, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller throws a pass against Michigan State during the Big Ten Conference championship NCAA college football game in Indianapolis. Miller was the first Big Ten MVP winner in 24 years after he threw for 2,094 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 TDs. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)  (The Associated Press)

Michigan State has played in two of the three Big Ten title games, is the defending Rose Bowl champion and on the best run in program history with 42 wins in four years.

Yet the Spartans cling to an underdog mentality. It's the product of being overshadowed historically by Michigan and Ohio State. Coach Mark Dantonio never wants his team to stop playing with that edge.

The Spartans likely will have to beat the Buckeyes to win the East Division. They also have a major September test with a road game against Oregon.

Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin are the top contenders in the West.