Date & Time: Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 @ 5:00 pm on ESPN
Game Line: Stanford -6.5 (@ JustBet Sportsbook)
Monday NCAA Football analysis: Two teams with the top defenses in the country will meet in the Rose Bowl game as the Big Ten champion Michigan State Spartans take on the PAC-12 champion Stanford Cardinal. Stanford comes into this match up at 11-2 and is coming off a 38-14 win in the PAC-12 championship over ArizonaState. They’ve had some impressive wins this year defeating Oregon 26-20, UCLA 24-10 and Notre Dame 27-20 in having one of the toughest schedules in the FBS. Their offense is mainly a running oriented offense averaging 210.9 yards rushing per game and led by Tyler Gaffney (1618 yds 5.3 avg). Their quarterback Kevin Hogan has completed 61.4% of his passes for 2487 yards with 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Their offense has been efficient, scoring on 90% of their red zone trips this season. Stanford’s defense has been dominant this year allowing an average of 18.6 points per game, and allows an average of 91.2 yards rushing per game.
MichiganState at 12-1 was flying under the radar for most of the season, until they upset OhioState in the Big Ten championship. The only blemish on their record was a 17-13 at South Bend against Notre Dame. The loss was mainly due to a trick play that backfired, and 4 pass interference calls that doomed the Spartans. They have some impressive victories on their resume, against then ranked Michigan 29-6, and road victories at Iowa and Nebraska. The focal point of the offense is running back Jeremy Langford, with 1338 yards and 17 touchdowns (1st in the Big Ten). Quarterback Connor Cook had a respectable 2013 season, completing 58.4% of his passes for 2423 yards with 20 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. The Spartans arguably boast the nation’s best defense, allowing an average of only 248.2 yards per game. They rank 4th in scoring defense, allowing 12.7 points per game. They also have the nation’s best rushing defense, allowing only 80.8 yards per game.
Out of all the BCS bowl games, this by far will be the most physical, as both offenses play smashmouth football and are defensively stout. I give the edge to the Cardinal, who have played the toughest schedule and is definitely from the better conference. MichiganState however, has won 9 straight games, and has been fairly dominant in each contest. The Spartans really opened some eyes in the Big Ten championship outgaining the Buckeyes by more than 200 yards through the air. It was a breakout game for Connor Cook, as he passed for 304 yards. It won’t be that easy against Stanford though, as their secondary is far superior to OhioState. I’m taking the points in this one though, as I think this contest has a feel to be a low scoring slugfest. MichiganState will be competitive, but Stanford will find a way to get the win in a close one.
2013 Rose Bowl Picks (Side & Total Picks): Michigan State +6.5 & Under 42.5
Rose Bowl Final Score Prediction: Stanford 21 Michigan State 17