The 100th Rose Bowl Game should be a dandy, but it could have been so much better. It will pit two teams who pride themselves on playing physical, stingy defense against one another.
Michigan State, however, enters the game without Max Bullough – their leader on defense. There will be a drop off in talent at middle linebacker for the Spartans, but will that drop off be what decides the game?
Let’s see what our writers think.
Michigan State and Stanford got here by playing great conference seasons after some early slip-ups. Both teams have also beat an opponent with elite scoring prowess (Oregon and Ohio State, respectively) that many thought would be in the National Title game.
In the end, defense is the name of the game and this should be a quality bowl game because these teams actually commit to playing it. I feel the PAC 12 is the better conference overall this year and that Stanford has been more consistently tested. While I am projecting a narrow Stanford victory, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Michigan State (the B1G’s best team) to win in a low-scoring affair. I have to side with the pattern or Rose Bowl futility from the B1G right now.
B1G Difference Maker: For me, this can’t be anyone other than Connor Cook. Sparty will put forth its usual Herculean effort on defense. But Cook will have to play as well as (if not better than) he did en route to beating Ohio State in order for MSU to emerge victorious. I don’t think they will simply be able to run all over the Stanford defense, so some deep pass plays are in order and accuracy is key.
In all honesty, I’m not sure the loss of Max Bullough will be what costs Michigan State the game. Stanford’s offensive line was always going to be a problem for the Spartans whether Bullough played or not. The Spartans will also be tested in the secondary like they haven’t been tested all year by the Stanford wideouts.
My B1G difference maker is Shilique Calhoun. He will need to get constant penetration in the backfield against both the run and the pass for the Spartans to have a shot in this one. I’m just not sure that will be possible against such a stout offensive line.
Look for the Cardinal to control this one from start to finish, capping it off with a big play on special teams en route to a two-score margin of victory.
The Spartans are making their first Rose Bowl trip since 1987 and are as motivated as any team in the country. When they look at their opponent, Stanford, it’s like looking in a mirror. Stanford is in it’s 4th consecutive BCS Bowl and 2nd Rose Bowl in a row, proving that the program is in good hands with head coach David Shaw even after Jim Harbaugh’s departure.
Stanford excels at beating teams that like to spread it out in the Pac 12, but struggled when they faced teams that liked to match their physicality. The Spartans are a team that can match them physically in every way.
Mark Dantonio will be one of the most sought after coaches in the offseason and he’s earned that praise.
Give me Sparty with the B1G difference maker being Spartan running back Jeremy Langford. Langford rushed for over 100 yards in each of Michigan State’s final eight games — a school record — and gave the Spartans stability at running back this season which was one of the biggest question marks heading into 2013.
PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 31, 2013