It has been a crazy couple of weeks for the Michigan State Spartans as they have risen through the ranks, going from unranked midway through the season to the No. 4 team in the nation in the most recent BCS standings. Winning nine straight games has led them to a Big Ten title and their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1988.
The Stanford Cardinal are almost a staple in the annual Rose Bowl game, making their 14th appearance this season. The reigning Rose Bowl champs are looking to make a statement and take down one of the best defenses and one of the most red-hot teams in the nation in Michigan State.
Michigan State had experienced much more success on offense since the season began, ranking 51st in rushing yards and 62nd in points per game. A season ago, the Spartans had a hard time getting into the endzone and now they are a 12-1 team, scoring at a solid pace. Connor Cook leads the team at quarterback, passing for 2,423 yards and 20 touchdowns, hitting Bennie Fowler 34 times for 525 yards and a team-high six touchdowns. Jeremy Langford leads the rushing attack with 1,338 yards and 17 touchdowns for the solid run game.
Stanford has a decent offense as well — but that’s not what this team is known for. The Cardinal are led by quarterback Kevin Hogan who is one of the best game-managers in college football. Hogan has passed for 2,487 yards and 20 touchdowns for the 90th-ranked passing offense while hitting talented wide out Ty Montgomery 58 times for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns. Tyler Gaffney is the best offensive weapon on the team, rushing for 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns, leading the 21st-ranked rushing offense in the nation.
Defensively, the Cardinal have one of the best units in football. Stanford ranks 10th in points allowed per game as well as 13th in yards allowed per game in the nation. Michigan State has the No. 1 overall defense in the country, ranking fourth in points allowed and first in total yards allowed per game with just over 250.
Michigan State and Stanford will play for the 2014 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., at 5 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 1. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: Michigan State 24, Stanford 21
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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