Thursday, December 27, 2012

Keys to victory for MSU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

This Saturday night, Michigan State finally gets back on the football field for the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against TCU.
Here are a few keys to the game for the Spartans:
- Get off the field on third down – TCU led the Big 12 in time of possession advantage this season, but was not that successful on third downs, converting just 34.1 percent. The Horned Frogs like to be aggressive on first and second down, but they are facing the toughest defense they have seen all season. Michigan State will get TCU into third-down situations and the Spartans will need to make stops on those third downs to get the ball back in the hands of the offense. If TCU is able to sustain drives, it will give the Spartan offense limited opportunities to succeed. Given MSU’s offense hasn’t had that high of a success rate, limited possessions don’t bode well for it.
- Don’t play into TCU’s hands – The Horned Frogs have one of the top rushing defenses in the nation, allowing just 103.9 yards per game on the ground. I know Le’Veon Bell is MSU’s workhorse, but if the running game isn’t establishing itself early, the Spartans need to air things out. TCU has 21 interceptions on the season, but they have given up 228 yards per game through the air. Michigan State should be able to find some holes in the secondary if Andrew Maxwell can make good throws and the receivers can catch the ball. With a month of preparation for this game, you would hope Dan Roushar has installed some creative passing plays to beat the Horned Frogs.
- Make the kicks – In a game like this, with two solid defenses meeting up, any chance for both teams to put points on the board will be key. Neither team has had a reliable kicking game, as TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom is 19 of 27 on field goal attempts this season. Oberkrom has missed four field goals from the 30-39 range and one from the 20-29 range. MSU kicker Dan Conroy went 22 for 31 on his field goal attempts this season, missed four form 30-39 yards and five from 40-49 yards. Conroy missed at least one field goal in nine of MSU’s 12 games this season. He needs to be on his game on Saturday night with points at a premium. Four of MSU’s six losses came by three points or less, and Conroy missed a field goal in three of those four losses.

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