Yeah… we’re wistful. But still, here’s the rundown
It’s the 100th Rose Bowl game and this years rendition of the classic features two similar teams that play an old fashioned “defense and run” style of game. Can the Cardinal move the ball on the ground as they like to do against the Spartan defense? Will the Spartans be able to move the ball at all against the Cardinal defense? We’ll find out in what should be a classic.
Oh, and you can’t have a Rose Bowl without Buckeyes- Orlando Pace will be enshrined in the Rose Hall Of Fame on Wednesday, and Archie Griffin was named Rose Bowl “All Century” player for his successes in four straight games.
Michigan State: The Spartans roll into Pasadena for the first time since 1988 when they defeated USC 20-17. Head coach Mark Dantonio has his team believing after knocking off second ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. However, beating Stanford will be no easy task and an off-field issue has made it even more daunting.
Max Bullough is undoubtedly defensive heart and soul. Due to an off-field issue that we won’t speculate on, he has violated team rules and will not be participating in the game. To put in perspective, though he’s not as good of a player, this would be like the Buckeyes losing Ryan Shazier for the Orange Bowl.
The Spartan defense does still has Darqueze Dennard and he is looking to go out with a bang in his last game in Spartan green. I also am a believer in teams, especially when it’s a key player on an already outstanding defense, being able to rise above the loss of a star player. Sparty may be just fine when the Cardinal have the ball.
Offensively is where MSU is going to struggle. I know what you’re thinking, we said the same thing prior to the B1G Championship. The difference is that Stanford can cover and shuts down the run pretty well. Quarterback Connor Cook will earn his scholarship trying to move the ball against a strong, physical Stanford defense that is shockingly quick.
Stanford: What else needs to be said about the Cardinal that Jesse Palmer hasn’t so eloquently already stated in his “When Stanford plays Stanford football, they can beat anybody”? While it was ridiculous to say about a two loss team as it pertained to the national title picture, all things being equal right now it’s a pretty accurate statement. One could argue that any team when “on” their game is capable of winning against anyone, but the way Stanford plays old school football is really hard to beat.
The Cardinal defense is big and strong, and as I mentioned earlier, deceptively quick. They have the ability to keep speed demons like Oregon from hitting the edges and turning things into a track meet. They also are strong up the middle and do a nice job shutting down the run. I sound like a broken record, but it’s an attacking, old school defense that is a lot like Michigan State.
Head coach David Shaw utilizes an offense that comes straight out of the NFL featuring a quarterback under center feeding a power run game and taking advantage of play-action to hit their marks down the field. Junior signal caller Kevin Hogan has been efficient and really broke out in the PAC-12 championship game against Arizona State throwing for 277 yards with only 12 completion (of 18 attempts).
Senior running back Tyler Gaffney is the real story of the Cardinal offense. He finished the season with 1618 yards and 20 touchdowns. He has power at the point of attack and speed to break away.
Buckeye Connection: I won’t avoid the obvious, the main connection regarding these two teams and our beloved is the December 6th B1G Championship Game that ended Ohio State’s national title and Rose Bowl dreams. It’s a game that I’m still not sure I’m completely over and will sting for a long time. Oh, and the Buckeyes played Stanford in one of these games a long time ago.
How I see it going: Dantonio seems to be pushing all the right buttons with his team in 2013, how will they react on hte first day of 2014 when they aren’t such big underdogs? There is no doubt that Tyler Gaffney is going to cause the Spartan defense problems much in the way Carlos Hyde was able to do. He’ll come directly at them and won’t stop. I expect the Spartans to play a more direct run game, hitting it hard inside and then utilizing play-action off it. It’ll be low scoring, but I expect Michigan State to pull it out in the end.
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