Contact Us

Rose Bowl Primer: Michigan State vs. Stanford [Video]

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The 100th Rose Bowl with Michigan State versus Stanford will be a hard-hitting old-school college football affair as two of the nation’s top defenses square off.

ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO

No. 4 Michigan State (12-1) vs. No. 5 Stanford (11-2)

[Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. EST on ESPN]

How They Got Here

Led by the strength of its top-ranked defense, Michigan State moved on from an early-season loss at Notre Dame to win its next nine games — including an upset of then-No. 2 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis — and secure the Spartans’ first conference title and Rose Bowl bid since 1987. Stanford, meanwhile, is appearing in the game for the second consecutive year after knocking off No. 14 Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game.

When Michigan State Has the Ball

The Spartans offense has been, at best, mediocre this season, ranking 83rd nationally in total offense. However, the Spartans defense has been so excellent that it was able to overcome some of the offense’s shortcomings. That said, the Spartans have shown improvement down the stretch, averaging 31.7 points per game in their last six after only putting up more than 26 twice in their first seven games. Spartans quarterback Connor Cook had a career day against Ohio State, throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns. But, like Stanford, expect Michigan State to try to pound the ball with running back Jeremy Langford (1,338 yards and 17 touchdowns this season). While Stanford may not boast the lofty defensive statistics of its opponent, look for All-American linebacker Trent Murphy to be a disruptive force at the point of attack.

When Stanford Has the Ball

The Cardinal is a run-first team whose offense is centered on dominating the line of scrimmage behind an offensive line that averages 305 pounds per man and features All-American guard David Yankey. The Cardinal ranks 22nd nationally in rushing and senior running back Tyler Gaffney has rushed for 1,626 yards, good for third best in the Pac-12. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was last in the Pac-12 in pass attempts and averages just 191 passing yards per game. But he has made the most of those attempts, throwing 20 touchdowns this year and ranking in the top 20 nationally in pass efficiency. However, this will be Stanford’s toughest test of the year as Michigan State leads the country in total defense and ranks in the top five of virtually every other defensive category. Expect the Cardinal to call on Gaffney to carry the load and move the chains. When Hogan does throw, look for him to try to avoid the Spartans All-American cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

What to Know

This is Michigan State’s first BCS bowl game and its first trip to Pasadena since 1987. This is the Spartans’ highest ranking since 1967. Stanford secured its first Rose Bowl win since 1972 with a victory over Wisconsin in this game last year. While both teams are well-disciplined and focused, it will be impossible for them to avoid rumors swirling around their coaches. Michigan State’s head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi have both been rumored to be in the running for other jobs. Stanford’s David Shaw has been connected with several NFL openings and Cardinal quarterbacks and receivers coach Mike Sanford is leaving to become the offensive coordinator at Boise State.

What to Watch For

With two dominant defenses and powerful running games, look for this one to be a low-scoring, smash-mouth affair. Michigan State ranks seventh nationally in turnover margin, which could be a huge factor in this contest. However, one potential game-changer could be the absence of Spartans middle linebacker and team captain Max Bullough, who has been suspended for a violation of team rules. Michigan State officials say they expect 40,000 to 50,000 Spartans fans to be at the game, which could turn the game into a home- game atmosphere a la East Lansing, Mich., for the Big Ten Conference champions.

Next: More on the Spartans and the Michigan State Rose Bowl Appearance

 

More from Channel 957

Best of the Web

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://mychannel957.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on Channel 95.7 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here.

Sign up for an account to comment, share your thoughts, and earn points to get great prizes.

Register on Channel 95.7 quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!