Alamo Bowl Preview and Pick: Michigan State Spartans vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders – Point Spread

Michigan State Spartans (6-6 4-6-1 ATS) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-4 7-4 ATS) Alamodome San Antonio TX 9 PM EST Saturday January 2, 2010 on ESPN
by Jason Green at

Point Spread: Spartans +7 / Red Raiders -7
Over/Under: 60.5

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This season’s Alamo Bowl may be a big mismatch, as the Texas Red Raiders and their dynamic offense take on a Michigan State Spartans squad that will miss 10 players because of suspension. In the end of February there was a fight between some MSU football players and a fraternity and 2 players were dismissed fro the Spartans and 8 were suspended. The big names that will not play in the Alamo Bowl are starters DB Chris L. Rucker and receivers B.J. Cunningham and Mark Dell.

The Spartans lost 3 of their last 5 games including the season finale getting spanked 42-14 to Penn State. The Spartans were only 1-2 in playing against ranked opponents this season and their lone win was against Michigan, who was ranked 22nd at the time, but finished the season at 5-7. Michigan State does have a decent offense ranked 41st in the nation and a mediocre defense ranked 62nd.

Besides the suspensions MSU goes into this game behind the 8-ball again since they are, pretty much, the away team with Tech playing in their home state.

The Red Raiders won 3 of their last 4 games, but were only 1-3 against teams ranked in the top 25. The Red Raiders have one of the best offenses in the nation, ranked 7th, and their defense ranks a respectable 47th. Tech can really light up the scoreboard, as they ranked 8th in the nation scoring 36.7 points per game. The Michigan State defense may have to win this game, as their offense, especially their passing offense, may suffer in this game without 2 starting WR’s.

In their last games of the regular season Michigan State was schooled by Penn State losing 42-14 while Texas Tech beat Baylor 20-13.

In their loss to Penn State in the season finale the Spartans went into halftime tied with the Nittany Lions at 7 a piece. However, the wheels came off for the Spartans in the 3rd quarter, as PSU lit them up for 28 unanswered points. In the game the Nittany Lions had more passing yards, many more rushing yards (188 to 94), and they hurt themselves by committing 2 turnovers. MSU was simply horrid on 3rd downs only converting a 1st down 2 of 12 times. The Spartans were underdogs by 3 points so they were nowhere near covering the spread and the posted total of 50 points was surpassed.

In their win over Baylor in their last game the stats are pretty even in terms of passing and rushing yards and time of possession. The Red Raiders trailed at halftime 10-3, but outscored Baylor 17-3 in the 2nd half including scoring 14 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter. Both teams were pretty sloppy committing 2 turnovers each. The Red Raiders were favored by 21 points in the game so they obviously did not cover.

We mentioned the mismatch earlier, but if you look at the Red Raiders and their passing offense led by Taylor Potts (3,068 yds 20 TD 12 INT) and MSU’s pass D you will see why Potts will have a huge game. Tech’s passing offense ranks 2nd in the nation (405.8 yards per game) and MSU’s passing defense ranks 103rd and they allowed 29 touchdown passes this season.

MSU will have to run the ball well in this game not only to move the chains, but also to keep Potts from lighting up the scoreboard. That simply will not happen in this game, as the Spartans have the nation’s 79th ranked rushing offense and the Red Raiders rank 37th in rushing defense.

MSU RB’s Larry Caper and Edwin Baker will have trouble running the ball in this game against a legit Red Raiders run defense and each is averaging less than 4.5 yards per carry.

Michigan State’s pass offense, led by QB Kirk Cousins (2,460 yds 18 TD 7 INT), leads a solid 26th ranked pass offense, but suspended WR B.J. Cunningham was their 2nd leading receiver, so they passing offense will struggle.

The Spartans will also struggle to move the chains through the air since the Red Raiders rank 2nd in the nation this season with 39 sacks.

Jason’s Pick: With the suspensions and with the weak passing defense that the Spartans have this game may be a blowout. MSU simply does not have the talent in their secondary from keeping Potts from having a huge game in the air. The Red Raiders will easily cover the 7-point spread and even with a total of 60.5 I would take the Over, as Tech may score more than that themselves.