NCAA Prediction and Free Pick Cardinals vs Spartans
#5 Stanford Cardinal (11-2) vs. #4 Michigan State Spartans (12-1) 01/01- 5:00PM EST
ROSE BOWL- Pasadena, CA
Line: STAN -6.5
For the first time in 26 years, the #4 Michigan State Spartans will playing in the historic Rose Bowl game on New Year’s Day against the #5 Stanford Cardinal in what is expected to be a great game in the 100th edition of the Granddaddy of Them All.
The Spartans (12-) find themselves in the Rose Bowl versus the defending champions after beating then-No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 in the Big Ten championship game back on December 7, which was their first outright title since 1987. That was the last time they made a Rose Bowl appearance and went on to beat USC.
This will be the Spartans first BCS bowl appearance and coach Mark Dantonio knows it will be special.
“It’s going to be a special moment when we walk out on that field,” Dantonio said.
Led by coach David Shaw, the Cardinal (11-2) have tasted a BCS bowl in each of his three seasons since taking over for Jim Harbaugh in 2011 and won their first Rose Bowl in 40 years when they beat Wisconsin 20-14 last season.
Shaw wants his players to treat Wednesday’s game as a new experience as if they’ve never been there before.
“Our guys have fond memories of it, but they’ve already started to say it: Last year was last year, and we have to prepare this year completely different,’” Shaw said. “Michigan State has been on a phenomenal run, tough competition, and come to play every week. We know it’s going to be a great game.”
The No. 4 ranking of the Spartans has been their highest since the 1967 season, have won nine consecutive games since suffering their only loss to Notre Dame back on Sept. 21 and claim the nation’s best defense with 248.2 yards per game, including an FBS-low 80.8 on the ground.
Michigan State’s defense is led by senior first-team All-American Darqueze Dennard, who won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back and sophomore end Shilique Calhoun, who was honored as the Big Ten’s top defensive lineman. But, they will be without a key member of their great defense in the likes of two-time team captain Max Bullough, who was suspended last Wednesday for violating team rules.
“It is extremely disappointing for all parties involved,” Dantonio said.
Dantonio has also been rumored for the Texas head coaching position, which he quickly dispelled.
‘I see Michigan State as the destination, not a stop,” he said. “It’s flattering, but that’s the way I see it.”
Shaw, due to his success at Stanford, has been rumored for the many potential NFL openings, but also says he is committed to staying at his alma mater.
“No matter what I say, the rumors aren’t going to stop,” Shaw said. “It doesn’t bother me. Every good football program in the last 15 years, after two good years, the head coach is going to be rumored to go someplace else. I take it as a compliment.”
Stanford played their way into the Rose Bowl with a 38-14 win over then-No. 11 Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game back on Dec. 7, but may have been in the BCS title game also at the Rose Bowl if it weren’t for two let down games in which they lost to unranked opponents.
They lost at Utah 27-21 on Oct. 12 and at USC 20-17 on November 16, but bounced back to perform great the following week.
I look forward to a great battle on the line of scrimmage as the Cardinal game that is averaging 234.2 yards a game on the ground and led by Tyler Gaffney who is averaging 144.5 yards over his last eight games will go up against the Spartans great defense. Kevin Hogan will try to keep the Michigan State defense off balance with an air attack as well.
“This team, they’re so wily as veterans,” Shaw said. “We’re going to be challenged by a team that finds a way to win, whether it’s run or throw. They’ll do whatever it takes to try to win a football game.”
Michigan State will counter with sophomore quarterback Conner Cook and junior running back Jeremy Langford, who is averaging 128.4 yards over his last eight games.
The Spartans are not as strong on offense as the Cardinal and with oddsmakers having confidence Stanford can move the ball, they have made them a (minus -6.5) point favorite, but get the latest spread on the game up until kickoff right here at Wonder Punter.
I’m really looking forward to this game and don’t have a clear-cut favorite, but with Stanford being able to get it done on both sides of the ball, I will give them the slight edge and predict the Cardinal winning their second consecutive Rose Bowl game.
By Mario Martinez- Wonder Punter