Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – Michigan State vs. TCU
The Buffalo Wild Wings bowl features two teams coming off disappointing regular seasons. TCU (7-5) had a rough inaugural season in the Big 12 after cruising through the much weaker Mountain West conference in 2011. TCU’s opponent, Michigan State had to win its regular season finale just to become bowl eligible a year after winning the Big Ten Leaders division and defeating Georgia in last season’s Outback Bowl.
The Horned Frogs found that life in a BCS conference is a little more difficult than playing one or two difficult games a season wrapped around ten automatic wins. With that said, TCU did lose their starting quarterback Casey Pachall midway through the season due to personal issues and was forced to turn to freshman Trevone Boykin who proved to be a significant drop off from his predecessor (15 TDs/9 INTs). TCU has struggled offensively most of the season which is saying a lot when going against some of the weaker defenses in the country that are found in the Big 12.
As inconsistent as things have been on offense for TCU, they’ve been that much worse for Michigan State. The Spartans ranked 113th in points scored behind inconsistent junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell. While the running game benefitted first team all-conference RB Le’Veon Bell, the aerial attack was virtually nonexistent mainly due to a lack of experience in the wide receiving corps.
If this game is going to have any type of storyline, it’s defense. Both TCU and Michigan State excelled on the defensive side of the ball with the Spartans boasting one of the nation’s best units. Michigan State is led by a trio of future NFL players in LB Max Bullough, DB Darqueze Dennard and DB Johnny Adams. As a group MSU ranked fourth in rushing yards allowed and allowed only five touchdowns on the ground all season. TCU’s defense ranked 18th in the nation allowing 332 yards per game which is even more impressive when you consider the high powered offenses displayed in the Big 12.
What will happen: Defense will rule this game. Both teams will struggle to move the ball on the other’s defense. MSU has the advantage on the ground with Bell, but TCU should be able to get a few big plays through the air with WR Boyce. In what should be an extremely even game that will most likely be decided by a key turnover one way or the other, take the under.
Prediction: MSU 17 TCU 16
The Play: UNDER 40.5
Bowl Game ATS Record: 0-2
YTD Record: 18-16