After, what most would consider, a letdown season, Michigan State takes on TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday night at 10:15 p.m. E.T. The game will be aired on ESPN. Here is how our staff sees things shaking out.
Andy Coppens (Co-managing editor):
Thoughts: I think this game is actually one of the more intriguing match ups, not only of the B1G ones, but in all of bowl season because we have two teams that vastly underachieved according to offseason expectations. However, they both were playing better football down the stretch. The key for me is to see how Andrew Maxwell grew or didn't during bowl practices. He was starting to get into a rhythm with his receivers towards the end of the season and if that can continue then the Spartans have a shot. However, they will need our (shameless plug) B1G Tight End of the Year, Dion Sims, to step up in a big time way to stretch the Horned Frogs defense. If they get some big time plays from him it could be a blow out for the Spartans, however I see them winning a close one because of Le'Veon Bell and the defense
Prediction: Michigan State 27, TCU 21
...more after the jump...
Will Nahikian (Featured columnist):
Thoughts: Everyone has been calling this game one of the most intriguing match-ups of the bowl season, but it could end up being the most boring of them all. Sure it would be cool if the Spartans were able to knock off Boise State and TCU in the same season, but this is not Andy Dalton's TCU. Neither of these two offenses have been lighting up the scoreboard consistently, and I would not expect a high-scoring affair. The defenses on the other hand have been stellar, Michigan State is ranked 10th in the nation in points against while TCU is ranked 34th in the nation. Michigan State has not won two bowl games in consecutive seasons since 1989/1990, but could do so with a victory over TCU. That statistic alone should pump up the Spartan fans a bit for this game, and I do believe that the Spartans will have enough to get it done. This looks like Le’Veon Bell’s last game as a Spartan and I expect him to have an impressive showing. How many yards will he rack up? My answer: A LOT. Look for the Spartans to run to set up the pass; play action should be utilized and Dion Sims should be targeted quite a bit. In my opinion the Spartans squeak by, in what could be a, boring, defensive battle.
Prediction: MSU 24, TCU 17
Nate Woelfel (Co-managing editor)
Thoughts: It’s no big secret that the 2012 edition of the Spartans were a disappointment. Many contend that this team underachieved, and while to some extent that is true, I think that some may have overestimated the capabilities of MSU this year. However, I, for one, believe that a win over TCU could help the Spartans save face. No doubt that this is not the Horned Frogs squad that downed Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, but they are a formidable foe none-the-less. They took care of Texas and hung with Oklahoma, and also kept a high-powered Baylor offense in check.
I realize that I am not the first person to mention this, but Le’Veon Bell will have to play a huge role for the Spartans if they are to be successful. No doubt, Bell will be mentally ready to play, but if TCU takes away the run game, I seriously doubt that Andrew Maxwell has what it takes to shoulder the burden.
With that being said, I do trust that the stout MSU defense can take care of a less than stellar TCU offensive attack and I think that Bell will be able to make an impact on offense, one way or another.
Prediction: Michigan State 28, TCU 24