TCU Horned Frogs vs. Michigan State Spartans Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

TCU Horned Frogs (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. Michigan State Spartans (6-6 SU, 4-8 ATS)
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Date/Time: Saturday December 29th, 2012. 10:15 PM Eastern
Where: Sun Devil Stadium Tempe, A.Z.
by Jay, Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: Texas Christian -2.5/MSU +2.5
Over/Under Total: 41

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Perhaps joining the Big 12 was not the best idea in retrospect? Entering
2012 Coach Gary Patterson had led TCU to 4 straight 11 win seasons and two
BCS Bowl appearances. The Horned Frogs joined the Big 12
this season in hopes to become a more legitimate National Championship threats
along with few other small reasons such as “money.” However, TCU found things
much tougher in the Big 12 this year losing all 4 conference games at home
and limping to a 7-5 record. However, the Horned Frogs will still get a
chance at postseason action when they battle the Michigan State
in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Coach Patterson has definitely had his hands full this season dealing with a rather young team and a freshman quarterback. However, TCU has been outstanding under Patterson in the postseason winning 6 of their last 7 games. So how can the Horned Frogs add another trophy to the mantle? It starts with the TCU defense. Michigan State has struggled tremendously on offense this year averaging just 370 total yards (83rd in FBS) per game. The Horned Frogs defense has been solid for the most part giving up just 332 yards (18th in FBS) per game. For TCU, the defense has to play consistent and prevent giving up any big plays.

TCU, like Michigan State, has struggled to find success on offense. The Horned Frogs average just 397 yards (64th in FBS) per game. Freshman QB Trevone Boykin has completed 58% passing for 1,853 yards with 15 scores and 9 picks since taking over for injured start Casey Pachall. The offense likes to run the football often which has been fundamental during the Patterson era in Fort Worth. However, the Spartans own one of the best defenses in the country especially against the run. Therefore, I believe Boykin has to play well and find ways to get star WR Josh Boyce (61rec, 800yds, 7TDs) the football in order for the Horned Frogs to pull out the win.


Speaking of that Spartans’ defense, Michigan State has been dominant on defense giving up just 273 total yards (4th in FBS) per game. Pat Narduzzi’s defense has been extremely disciplined and strong against the run allowing 99 yards per game (8th in FBS). The Spartans have the type of defense that can shut down opponents especially struggling offenses like TCU. More importantly Michigan State will need the defense to continue to play well to keep the Spartans offense on the short side of the field.

Michigan State’s offense can be accredited to the majority of the struggles during this year’s 6-6 campaign. The offense has posted putrid numbers averaging 370 total yards (89th in FBS) and just 20.25 points (107th in FBS) per game. QB Andrew Maxwell has been extremely inconsistent hitting just 52% passing for 2,578 yards with 13 scores and 9 picks. Maxwell really struggled during the 2nd half of the year tossing 4 picks and 0 scores in the last two games. It will be interesting to see if the Spartans have any success throwing the football against TCU’s defense when the two teams collide in Tempe.

If the Spartans are unable to get Maxwell in rhythm, rest assured running back Le’Veon Bell could possibly see 30 plus touches. Bell is the best player on the Michigan State roster and he has become the work horse for the offense this season carrying the ball 350 times for 1,648 yards with 11 touchdowns. Bell averaged 34 carries over the final 3 games of the season and I expect the offense to ride him again against that tough TCU defense. The total mark for this game has been slated at an extremely low 41 points out of respect to the defenses so it may not take but just a few big plays to win the football game. In that scenario, I will put my chips on the best player on the field with Le’Veon Bell and side with the Spartans.

Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Michigan State +2.5

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