In what looks to be one of the more evenly-matched bowl games, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl should also be a low-scoring affair.
The Spartans only give up an average of 16 points a game which is good for ninth in the country. The Horned Frogs aren’t as stingy but they still allow a minimal amount of points at 23 per game.
The Spartan defense is led by linebacker Max Bullough and defensive end William Gholston who are both feared by quarterbacks around the country. Although Michigan State’s sack numbers are down in 2012 compared to last season, Bullough and Gholston are still putting up monster numbers and rushing the quarterbacks into bad throws.
TCU ranks fourth nationally with 21 interception on the season and scare quarterbacks away from passing the ball. The Horned Frogs are led by three defensive backs. Jason Verrett, Sam Carter and Elisha Olabode are three of the best defensive backs in the Big 12 as they have combined for 14 interceptions this year.
The Spartans’ quarterback Andrew Maxwell has not been as good as advertised this season as the junior is starting in his first season of his collegiate career after Michigan State lost star quarterback Kirk Cousins this year.
In order to have any type of success, the Spartans will need to run the ball, and run effectively with the top rusher in the Big 10, Le’Veon Bell. Bell accumulated over 1,640 yards and 11 touchdowns this season en route to his career-best season as a Spartan.
The Horned Frogs have not yet seen a running back built like Bell in the Big 12 who is a 6-foot-2, 250-pound back with moves and elusiveness.
In order for the Horned Frogs’ offense to be successful they will need to take advantage of the injury to starting cornerback Johnny Adams as inexperienced backup, Mitchell White, will be starting in his place.
Trevone Boykin will need to air the ball out and take advantage of the inexperience at the one cornerback position. They will have a hard time running against this Spartan defense and points don’t come easy either.
In my opinion, this will be a low-scoring game with many missed opportunities. Defense is the name of the game and Michigan State has the edge.
Prediction: Michigan State 20, TCU 13