INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana -- The 2015 Big Ten Championship Football game is upon us.
The 5th ranked Michigan State Spartans (11-1 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) are representing the East Division and the 4th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes (12-0 overall, 8-0 Big Ten) are representing the West Division.
This will be MSU's third trip to this game in five years (2011, 2013, 2015) while the Hawkeyes are making their debut appearance at the Big Ten Championship game.
"It speaks to our program's stability. It's more a program statement I think in terms of our lasting success rather than one here and done, not being back," said Coach Dantonio as he addressed the media.
"Mental toughness is how you handle adversity or how you handle success, both cases really. If you win, how do you handle your next game...The living examples that we've had, there's a great message in that really for the rest of our team... We've won a lot of games on the last play of the game throughout these years. I think it's sort of built in." This game will mark the 46th meeting between MSU and Iowa with Iowa in the lead 23-20-2. However, the teams have never met on neutral ground.
With regard to this game leading to a probable playoff game, Coach Ferentz noted, "I think anybody that reaches this game, first of all, you don't get here by accident, you have to have and excellent football team. You have to play well throughout the whole season. I think that's been the tradition of this game for five years now."
Coach Ferentz decided to forego the optional team walkthrough. "We wanted to stay with our routines, do what we do, do what we've been successful with this year."
"It's going to be a new challenge. 13th game. We haven't played in a 13th game this early fortunately. I guess there might be some bowl games in December, early December. But it's a big game... We try to handle this like an away game. It really is... The only difference is we got an extra day... But pretty much been business as normal this week."
The last time these teams played each other was in the 2013 season.
Michigan State won its eighth Big Ten Championship in school history with a 34-24 victory over No. 2 Ohio State in the 2013 Big Ten Championship.
Coach Dantonio addressed his view on the role of the Big Ten nationally.
"I tell our players all the time, we have world class athletes at Michigan State and elsewhere throughout the Big Ten. But you got to find the inches. Inevitably obviously this year this conference has found some inches... I'm not here to say this is the best conference. I'm saying at this point in time we're excelling. I really think there's a lot of parity in college football and it's across the country, not just in a conference."
Following the 2015 Big Ten Championship, Sunday will bring the Bowl Selection Show.
MSU's seniors have been a part of three winning bowl games: 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl and the 2015 Cotton Bowl.
The 2015 All Big Ten Football team has selected its first team which includes a few players from each team.
DB Desmond King, Iowa and DL Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State have been named to the Defense.
The All Big Ten Offense includes QB Connor Cook, C Jack Allen and T Jack Conklin of Michigan State and G Jordan Walsh representing Iowa.
2015 Big Ten Individual Award Winners from the two teams are:
Dungy-Thompson Humanitarian Award: John Shinsky, Michigan State.
Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year: Connor Cook, Michigan State.
Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year: Aaron Burbridge, Michigan State.
Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year (coaches vote): Kirk Ferentz, Iowa.
Dave McClain Coach of the Year (media vote): Kirk Ferentz, Iowa.
Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year: Desmond King, Iowa.
Rodgers-Dwight Return Specialist of the Year: William Likely, Maryland.
Game time is set for Saturday, December 5, 2015, kickoff at 8:17 pm ET on Fox 2 at Luca Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.