The game has featured a number of difference conferences in the past, including the WAC, Big East, and PAC-10. Starting in 2006, the game has featured a match-up between the Big 10 and Big 12.
Texas Christian Scouting Report: TCU played their first season as a Big 12 member this year, and it wasn’t exactly a memorable one. While they started strong, picking up 4 wins including their first conference game against Kansas, they finished 3-5 over their last 8. While the record isn’t particularly enticing, they did at least put up a solid dog fight in most of their games, so it’s not as if they’re heavily over-matched in the Big 12.
Keep an eye on quarterback Trevone Boykin who has 1853 yards and 15 TDs on 154 completions. His favorite receiver is clearly Josh Boyce, who’s picked up 800 yards even, and 7 touchdowns, on 61 receptions. TCU is not the best at either passing or throwing, but they’re reasonably well balanced in both, and should be able to find some success moving the football.
Buckeye Connection: Ohio State and Texas Christian have played 6 times since 1937. The Buckeyes are 4-1-1 against the Horned Frogs, including 3-0 since 1966. Their last game played was in 1973, when the Buckeyes ran up a 37-3 final score.
Michigan State Scouting Report: After a solid year last season ending in a rough defeat to Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship game, many thought Michigan State would repeat this season. Apparently replacing your quarterback is harder than it looks, however. MSU struggled to collect victories in the later stages of the season, going 3-5 in Big Ten play, with wins at Indiana, at Wisconsin, and at Minnesota. They did not win a single conference game on their home field all season, including a tough double overtime loss to Iowa – a team who is not bowling this season.
Despite issues in their passing game (namely, catching), quarterback Andrew Maxwell has had a reasonably good season, throwing 431 passes for 228 completions, 2578 yards, and 13 touchdowns. He’s joined in the backfield by arguably one of the most dangerous running backs in college football, Le’Veon Bell, who has 1648 yards and 11 touchdowns on 250 carries.
Buckeye Connection: The connections are strong here. Head Coach Mark Dantonio is a former Buckeye assistant, having been the Defensive Coordinator for the 2002 National Championship team. Former Buckeye, and former BBC Contributor, Rob Harley is a current graduate assistant for the Spartans. Mike Tressel, the current Michigan State Linebackers and Special Teams coach, is the nephew of former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. Starting Defensive End William Gholston is the cousin of former Buckeye defensive line standout Vernon Gholston. The Buckeyes and Spartans faced off at Michigan State this year, which resulted in a 17-16 loss for the Spartans. The Buckeyes are 27-12 against the Spartans all-time.
There’s one big question mark in my mind coming into this game. While both teams seem fairly well balanced, the Spartans have an offensive line that remarkably reminds me of a wet noodle. You’d think, having one of the best backs in the country, the Spartans would be able to pound the rock at whim, but that seems to be quite the opposite of what actually happens. The blame may also rest on their inability to throw, which may be the deciding factor in this game. If Andrew Maxwell’s receivers figure out how to hang onto the football, this could get interesting in a hurry.