Hail to the Spartans, and their trip to the Rose Bowl

Things were getting a little cheesy in Pasadena after three consecutive trips by Wisconsin, so it's nice that Michigan State will have its day in the sun.

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What a thrill it is to welcome any other Big Ten school to this year's Rose Bowl.

Thank you, Michigan State Spartans, for not being Wisconsin.

Thanks for your childlike exuberance in advance of the historic 100th game.

"They'll get to see some movie stars and things like that," Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio said of his players in anticipation of their trip. "That's part of it. We'll try to make life moments."

Thank you, Sparty, for your spiffy No. 4 Bowl Championship Series ranking and defeating Ohio State to save the BCS from one last fiasco.

Thank you for winning a school-record 12 games, and being only four points from undefeated, and having the nation's No.1 defense and not being the Big Ten representative only because Ohio State was on NCAA probation.

Thank you for wanting to go to Disneyland and eat prime rib.

Thank your fans for making this one tough-to-get ticket.

Thank you, especially, for Magic Johnson.

After three straight years of aging cheddar cheese, man, did we need a school that hasn't been here since 1988.

Wisconsin had the holiday spirit on its first visit and helped put on a fabulous show in a mini-classic, 21-19 loss to Texas Christian.

The second visit was OK, like a relative stopping by without calling, but that ended in a 45-38 loss to Oregon.

Last season, though, was a low point in visiting-team history as Wisconsin seemingly punched the clock in advance of its 20-14 loss to Stanford.

The players were the opposite of awestruck.

Could you blame them?

USC players acted the same way after three straight trips in 2007, '08 and '09.

The Rose Bowl, really, again?

The difference was the Trojans won all three games.

Wisconsin backed into last season's game with an 8-5 record and a coach, Bret Bielema, who decided he'd rather be the coach at Arkansas.

Athletic Director Barry Alvarez did his best to salvage a messy situation and agreed to a one-game coaching comeback.

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