So much has happened since September.

Michigan State has gone from Big Ten contender to flop in a matter of three weeks. Purdue looked to have another Drew Brees in freshman Brandon Hance, until Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan each took their turns rendering him helpless. Then there are Penn State and Indiana who each looked to battle for the cellar position of the Big Ten until they went on 5-1 and 3-1 runs, respectively, to complete their conference seasons.

Now all four teams look to continue on or improve upon their previous successes.

Missouri (3-5 Big 12, 4-6 Overall) at Michigan State (3-5 Big Ten, 5-5) 11 a.m. ESPN2: It was only Nov. 3 when Michigan State was mentioned for the Big Ten title and BCS possibilities.

Now it fights for a bowl berth and anything to say that it didn”t have another one-game season.

For the past three weeks, the Spartans have looked like the Detroit Lions in finding ways to lose. They”ve let one person beat them Indiana”s Antwaan Randle El. They”ve beaten themselves six turnovers in a loss to Purdue. They”ve even blown large leads 17 points to Penn State last weekend.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, their final opponent is just the type they don”t need to see. Missouri has played consistently well all season. The Tigers have defeated the teams they should beat, and they”ve lost to the teams they had no chance against. Starting quarterback Kirk Farmer is not by any means the best of the Big 12, but has been intercepted the fewest times in the conference. With the Big 12″s defensive talent, having just five interceptions in 260 attempts is quite an accomplishment.

Offensively, Michigan State should have no problems against a defense that allows over 25 points a game. Expect T.J. Duckett and Little John Flowers to each have big games against a Missouri rush defense that has only kept one team Southwest Texas State under 100-yards rushing.

This game will be much closer than most will think as Missouri will control the clock, but the Spartans will make up for their lack of ball possession with one- or two-play scores by Duckett or wideout Charles Rogers.

Michigan State 32, Missouri 21

Penn State (4-4 Big Ten, 5-5) at Virginia(3-5 ACC, 4-7) 12 p.m. ESPN: They said he was too old to coach a winning team. His offense was too predictable. His recruiting inabilities left him with a team too weak and an 0-5 start to the season.

Penn State coach Joe Paterno heard it all, ignored it and humbly finished the conference slate 5-1.

The change in fortunes can be attributed to the change of the offense”s focus to the pass. Quarterback Zack Mills has turned many heads in his emergence as the most exciting quarterback in the league. He”s been successful as a starter, evident in the Michigan State and Ohio State games, and even more dangerous as a backup, starting the turnaround winning streak against Northwestern with a fourth-quarter comeback to win the game.

The Lions will need to put up a strong defensive effort, though, as Virginia has a threesome that most teams would envy. Quarterbacks Bryson Spinner and Matt Schaub are each in the top ten of the ACC in passing efficiency, and wide receiver Billy McMullen leads the conference with 80 receptions.

With the concentration on each of the passing attacks, it will be the running game that makes the difference. Penn State”s Larry Johnson and Eric McCoo have each had their best games in the past two weeks and look to be the game-breakers in converting on the chances their quarterback gives them.

Penn State 24, Virginia 16

Notre Dame (4-6) at Purdue (4-4 Big Ten, 6-4), 4:30 p.m., ABC: This is Bob Davie”s final chance to show that he belongs as Notre Dame”s coach.

But unfortunately for him, no matter the outcome of this in-state rivalry, he is on his way to being the first Notre Dame coach ever fired with good cause.

There is a chance for the Irish to win as Purdue”s “fast-break football” offense has looked more like the sputtering Chicago Bulls in the past month. Brandon Hance has thrown six interceptions to his three touchdowns his last six games.

Don”t expect running back Montrell Lowe to be able to carry the load for Purdue either, as Notre Dame”s defense has been the only strength in this disappointing season.

Notre Dame 10, Purdue 7

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