Monday, December 3, 2012

Thoughts on Michigan's & MSU's bowl game

The bowl schedule was announced on Sunday night and Michigan and Michigan State both found out their bowl matchup.
Here is my thought on both contests.

Outback Bowl
Michigan vs. South Carolina
If Michigan had to be matched up against a top SEC team, South Carolina is the best option.
There is no doubt that the Gamecocks have an amazing defense. They allowed just 17.4 points per game this year, which ranks 13th in the county. But South Carolina’s offense is not that strong and the Gamecocks will be without running back Marcus Lattimore, who is their best player.
Even with Lattimore, the Gamecocks were held to just 11 points by Florida and 21 by LSU. The Michigan defense should be able to keep the Wolverines in this game, especially with Greg Mattison getting a month to prepare for the game.
The real question will be how much can the Michigan offense score against South Carolina? This will be a great physical test for the offensive line and the Gamecocks should be able to match Michigan’s offensive speed with their back seven.
The Wolverines will also face a great challenge in stopping sophomore defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney has 13 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss this year and has the ability to take over a game. It will be interesting to see how often he lines up across Michigan tackle, Taylor Lewan, and who wins those battles.
Ultimately, it wouldn’t surprise me if this game rivals last year’s Sugar Bowl or this year’s MSU vs. Michigan game. I don’t expect a ton of scoring, but both teams should have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Michigan State vs. TCU
I also don’t think TCU is a terrible matchup for the Spartans to get for a bowl game.
The Horned Frogs have a similar build, with a defense that is better than the offense. TCU doesn’t have as good of a defense as Michigan State, but it does have a better offense.
The Frogs are scoring just under 30 points per game this season while allowing 23.1 points per contest on defense. What TCU does well is defend the run. It is currently 10th in the nation in fewest rushing yards allowed, just two spots behind the Spartans.
What this means is that this game will ultimately come down to whether or not Andrew Maxwell can make the big throws.
MSU can’t expect Le’Veon Bell to take over the game, so Maxwell will have to convert third-down throws and be accurate with his deep balls. He will also have to avoid turnovers. The Horned Frogs have an impressive 21 interceptions this season.
With a little under a month to get ready for this game and no other game to look ahead to, I would hope the Spartans get creative in their preparation and open up the playbook for this game.
We have seen the development of the receivers throughout the season and it is clear there are some playmakers there. The offensive line will be as healthy as it can be given who is available, so if MSU is going to finally break through with its passing game, this would be the time.
It will likely be a close game once again for MSU, but this game is certainly one the Spartans can win.

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