My Mom is from Michigan and grew up in Detroit, so my extended family is pretty much split between scUM and Michigan State. With that in mind, I think I will have to go with Sparty for both scenarios you laid out. If OSU didn't exist, they would be one of the closest teams that I have a connection with, and they still have the rivalry with TTUN. On the other hand, I still do root for MSU to win each week because it helps the Buckeyes (except this week of course!)
I will not be 100% confident in this team in any big game, especially on the road, with the potential for 1-2 huge defensive blunders per game. That always leaves the possibility of quick scores and momentum swings for the other team.
Still, I think the good guys squeak out a close one, 37-31
I would recommend going to Hineygate for your pregame festivities. It is on Lane Avenue right across the street from the St. Johns Arena where the skull session is. I personally have never been there, as it is more for alumni and the general public, but I have heard great things.
If you are looking for a more college-like pregame experience, there are a lot of bars near or on campus to go to (obviously, its Ohio State!). My personal favorite pregame spot is Little Bar, near the corner of Lane and High St. They have a great outdoor area to tailgate at.
Have fun at the game!
Take it for what its worth but I know the president of OSU's student government and he said there is more bad to come with Tressel. I am still not convinced that the worst has passed.