Stanford Cardinal(11-2SU,7-6ATS) vs.Michigan State Spartans(12-1SU,8-4-1ATS)
The Rose Bowl
Date and Time:Wednesday, January 1, 2014, 5pm ET
Where:The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
byEvergreen,Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:STAN -6/MSU +6
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Whoa Nelly, its time for the Gran
You know how that sentence ends and since Im not sure if I have to pay Keith Jackson to finish it, Im just gonna leave it right there.It is time for the 2014 Rose Bowl and the 100thinstallment of the game features the Stanford Cardinal and Michigan State Spartans.Both teams won their conference championships and would have had good cases to make the four team playoff if this were next year but a spot in the most tradition rich college football game is nothing to sneeze at.This game has all the makings of a knockdown, drag-out, old-school battle with each team having similar strengths and very rugged defenses.
The online betting sites like the Cardinal as six point favorites, which seems to be quite a bit for a neutral site game between the fourth and fifth ranked teams but the action has stayed pretty balanced with just a slight uptick for the Spartans as the line pushed north from the opening point spread of five and half.The over/under total for the game is 43 for this matchup between the 10thand 4thbest defenses in terms of points allowed.One late betting note is the suspension of Spartan LB Max Bullough for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.Bullough was second on the team with 76 tackes.
Stanford is back for the second Rose Bowl in as many years and now looks to down MSU after taking care of Wisconsin on New Years Day 2013.The Cardinal took a bad beat at Utah and were pretty flat in a loss at USC but looked great in wins against Oregon and twice against Arizona State with the second ASU meeting deciding the PAC-12, a 38-14 rout where Stanford was the clearly better team.There are no real weaknesses on this team, maybe a little spotty play in the secondary, but that might be due to the 3rdranked rush defense making the opposition take to the air.Michigan St. will have to do its homework to get ready for the 3-4 defense as only Wisconsin runs that system in the Big Ten and Sparty did not face the Badgers in 2013.Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy have combined for 31 tackles for loss with Skov already at 100 total tackles for the year.That Stanford front seven versus the MSU offensive line will be a key matchup here.
Michigan State has some gaudy stats on defense as well, some will say that is due to the relative lack of offense in the Big Ten but the Spartans are first in the nation in total yards allowed and rush yards allowed while giving up just 12.7 points per contest.That cant all be due to a soft Big Ten.Spartys only blemish was a 17-13 loss to Notre Dame in South Bend (Stanford beat ND 27-20 at home) and MSU dominated much of the Big 10 Championship game on the way to handing Ohio State a 34-24 loss.Michigan State started off very shaky on offense and really had to rely on the defense in the early part of the schedule but the offense has grown and finished the year scoring just under 30 points per game.Their toughest test is ahead of them as they take on a Cardinal defense that gives up just 91 yards to the opposing ground attack.
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Kevin Hogan is a solid signal caller for the Cardinal, he has hit on 61% of his passes for 2,487 yards and 20 touchdowns but Stanford is a run first team as Tyler Gaffney leads the team with 1,613 yards and 20 touchdowns.That running game will need to find success against a defense that is giving up just 80 yards per game on the ground or Hogan will have to put the ball up against a very good secondary that has excelled at getting turnovers.Hogan does have a true gamebreaker at receiver in Ty Montgomery, and he will go over 1,000 yards if he can manage 63 come Wednesday.
Conner Cook is very similar at QB, with 2,423 yards and 20 touchdowns but is a little less polished than Hogan.Cook has proven he can make the big play and he will spread the ball out as evidenced by five different Spartan receivers having at least 22 catches entering the game.Bennie Fowler leads the team in receiving yards and touchdown grabs but Jeremy Langford will look to do the work on the ground first, as he has all year, gaining 1,338 yards and scoring 17 times.The O-Line, D-Line battle will play out here again and it appears that whichever quarterback has the best game will likely give his team the edge it needs to tip the scales.
This game is for you if you like power football.Its tough to see either offense having any consistent success as both defenses are the clearly superior to the offensive counterpart.Both teams have been good over the past few years as well so no clear advantage given to either as far as experience goes.This will obviously be a hard fought contest that will swing on a play or two here and there but that tells me that MSU is looking good with six point spread.I dont see how you blowout a team that has a defense like that and that makes the six an even bigger number.I like Stanford to get the win but Im taking Michigan State and the six points and feeling pretty good about it.Darqueze Dennard and Denicos Allen will have impact games as they have so many times before and this one stays razor thin before Stanford gets a 24-23 win.
EvergreensPick to Cover the Point Spread: Michigan StateSpartans plus the points.
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