Big Ten Expansion: Michigan State versus potential Pac-12 candidates

My offseason series continues today with a look toward further expansion candidates. Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren made remarks last week that the league is eyeing eventually expanding to 20 members, and the new mega-media rights deal worth over $7 billion reportedly includes built-in escalators for such a contingency.

With that in mind, the final two segments of my offseason expansion series will look at top candidates for filling in those final four slots. As a result of that criteria, “top candidates,” I will not be considering any Big 12 schools because none offer the type of media revenue boost from its brand power and media market, even Kansas basketball, that would make said candidate an appealing decision in my view.

So with that in mind, here are the top schools remaining in the Pac-12 (in no particular order) that might still end up as Big Ten additions down the road and their history in football and men’s basketball against the Michigan State Spartans.


washington huskies

Michigan State is 1-2 in football versus UW, with a home-and-home series kicking off this fall. The series dates back to 1969, but has not occurred since a bowl matchup in 1997.

The full series history of Michigan State versus Washington is below:

MSU-Washington Football Series History

Date Season Lease field Score
Date Season Lease field Score
12/25/1997 1997 Honolulu, Hawaii neutral L 23 – 51
9/19/1970 1970 Seattle, Wash. Away L 16 – 42
9/20/1969 1969 East Lansing, Mich. Home W 27 – 11

As for basketball, the programs have met just once in the 2010 Maui Invitational. The No. 2 Spartans emerged victorious despite a 10-point deficit at halftime in a 76-71 victory of No. 13 Washington.

MSU-Washington Basketball Series History

Date Season Lease Short Score
Date Season Lease Short Score
11/24/2010 2010-11 Lahaina, Hawaii neutral W 76 – 71

Oregon Ducks

Michigan State has never played the Oregon Ducks on the hardwood, but hold a 3-4 record on the gridiron in a series dating back to 1979. That also includes two thrilling top-10 matchups between the programs in 2014 and 2015.

MSU-Oregon Football Series History

Date Season Lease field Score
Date Season Lease field Score
12/31/2018 2018 Santa Clara, Calif. / Levi’s Stadium neutral L 6 – 7
9/12/2015 2015 East Lansing, Mich. Home W 31 – 28
9/6/2014 2014 Eugene, Ore. Away L 27 – 46
9/2/1999 1999 East Lansing, Mich. Home W 27 – 20
9/5/1998 1998 Eugene, Ore. Away L 14 – 48
9/20/1980 1980 Eugene, Ore. Away L 7 – 35
9/15/1979 1979 East Lansing, Mich. Home W 41 – 17

California Berkley Bears

The Spartans hold a 2-1 record against Cal in a series that dates back to 1957. The programs played a home-and-home series from 1957-1958, then did not play again for 50 years. The programs have never faced off on the hardwood.

MSU-Cal Football Series History

Date Season Lease field Score
Date Season Lease field Score
8/30/2008 2008 Berkeley, Calif. Away L 31 – 38
9/27/1958 1958 East Lansing, Mich. Home W 32 – 12
5/10/1957 1957 Berkeley, Calif. Away W 19 – 0

Stanford Cardinal

Michigan State fans will immediately remember the most recent matchup on the football field between the Spartans and the Cardinal. That was the sixth game in the all-time series that dates back to 1955. MSU is 4-2 against the Cardinal. However, the programs have only played twice since 1962 and both matchups came in neutral site bowl games.

MSU-Stanford Football Series History

Date Season Lease field Score
Date Season Lease field Score
1/1/2014 2013 Pasadena, Calif. neutral W 24 – 20
12/31/1996 1996 El Paso, TX neutral L 0 – 38
9/29/1962 1962 Stanford, CA Away L 13 – 16
7/10/1961 1961 East Lansing, MI Home W 31 – 3
9/29/1956 1956 Stanford, CA Away W 21 – 7
10/8/1955 1955 East Lansing, MI Home W 38 – 14

arizona wildcats

Michigan State is 3-0 all-time against Arizona, but the teams have not played against one another in football since 1949.

MSU-Arizona Football Series History

Date Season Lease field Score
Date Season Lease field Score
11/19/1949 1949 Tucson, Ariz. Away W 75 – 0
10/16/1948 1948 Tucson, Ariz. Away W 61 – 7
11/21/1936 1936 East Lansing, Mich. Home W 7 – 0

While the football series has been dormant for longer than MSU’s membership in the Big Ten, the basketball series only dates back to 1999. The series is even up at 2-2 between the Spartans and the Wildcats.

MSU-Arizona Basketball Series History

Date Season Lease Short Score
Date Season Lease Short Score
11/11/2016 2016-17 Honolulu, Hawaii neutral L 63 – 65
23/11/2005 2005-06 Maui, Hawaii Away W 74 – 71
12/15/2001 2001-02 East Lansing Home W 74 – 60
12/11/1999 1999-00 Tucson, Ariz. Away L 68 – 79

While Arizona feels a bit of a reach, it is an AAU member and would likely bring in the Phoenix media market. Utah and Colorado are both AAU members as well, but neither brings in a strong national brand. Denver is the No. 16 media market in the country and Salt Lake City the No. 30 media market, but the overall value of the brands would not represent a great pickup.

ArizonaState is not a member of the AAU and does not bring in a great academic rating or brand power, either. Washington State and Oregon State shouldn’t need explaining, either.

As for how the potential expansion candidates compare from a Michigan State fan perspective, Oregon offers the most exciting history of the lot. Stanford would also rank highly from a series history as well.

Compared to other Big Ten additions, most schools pale in series history with other members added since Michigan State joined in the 1950s. Penn State was 1-8-1 against MSU dating to 1914, Nebraska held a 5-0 mark over MSU dating to 1914, Maryland was 1-4 versus MSU dating to 1944, and Rutgers 3-2 against Michigan State since 1988.

As previously covered in this series, Michigan State is 3-3 against UCLA and 4-4 against USC.

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