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5 Reasons To Watch The Vizio Rose Bowl

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5 Reasons To Watch The Granddaddy Of Them All

David Shaw
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Vizio Rose Bowl is perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the bowl season. This game will undoubtedly and rightly pay homage to the gridirons of the past. The Michigan State Spartans and the Stanford Cardinal are going to give viewers a long, hard-fought battle of vintage football. Both bring physical defenses and tough run games to the table, and at the end of the day, it will be the toughest team that survives to win.

There is a lot on the line for both teams. Michigan State, making its first trip to the Rose Bowl in 25 years, comes in riding a nine-game win streak and the only 12-win season in school history. Among the Spartan faithful, there is a palpable feeling in the air, and that feeling is, “it’s our time.”

Stanford is looking to win this historic game for the second time in as many years. After starting the season with national title hopes in full view, disappointing losses to Utah and USC could have left the Cardinal feeling like it got a consolation prize. Don’t be fooled, this team is coming to play and to win.

The matchup on the sidelines will be one for the books as well. Mark Dantonio is making his first trip to a BCS game at the helm of Michigan State’s program. Dantonio was the unanimous choice for Big 10 Coach of the Year and one of eight finalists for the National Coach of the Year award. Stanford’s head coach David Shaw is a Stanford man at heart and a Jim Harbaugh disciple. Success is expected, and Shaw has delivered, leading the Cardinal to a BCS bowl in all three of his years as head coach.

If you need more convincing, here are five reasons to watch the 100th Rose Bowl Game.

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5. Defense

Max Bullough
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What’s that they say about defense winning championships? In this game, it’s going to be true. Michigan State is bringing the nation’s top-ranked overall defense to Pasadena. Superbly led by senior captain Max Bullough, the Spartan D will be ferocious. Stanford’s unit is no slouch, ranking third in the nation against the run. Senior linebacker and second team All-American Trent Murphy leads the way with 58 tackles and 14 sacks on the year.

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4. 100th Rose Bowl Game

Rose Bowl
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Jan. 1, 2014 will mark the centennial anniversary of the Rose Bowl Game. To celebrate, the Rose Bowl will debut its swanky new renovations, four years in the making. Ironically, the renovations have been overseen by Barton Malow Co., the chairman and CEO of which is a Michigan State alumnus. Among the many enhancements are a new press box, club seats, suites and improvements to the main concourse. The 100th anniversary, improved game experience, and the fact that this is MSU’s first trip to the Rose Bowl in a quarter century are all conspiring to make tickets to this game some of the most expensive in Rose Bowl history.

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3. Darqueze Dennard

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This game features two first team All-Americans, one of whom is Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard. Dennard, nicknamed by his teammates “No Fly Zone,” is also the winner of the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award for the nation’s best defensive back. He’s a senior, a captain, and a leader on one of the toughest secondary units in the country. He has racked up 161 tackles, 28 passes defended and 10 interceptions in 42 career games. Catching a ball anywhere in his vicinity would be a true feat of heroics.

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2. Tyler Gaffney

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The other first team All-American in this game is Stanford RB Tyler Gaffney. The 6-foot01, 221 pound senior has been the work horse for the Cardinal this season, amassing 1618 yards on 306 carries. He’s averaging 5.3 yards a carry and has found the end zone 20 times. He scored three times in the first half during Stanford’s blowout win against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Championship, including one breakout run for 69 yards. The Spartans’ attempt to contain this rough-and tumble back will make for an exciting matchup indeed.

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1. Old School Football

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This game is tailor made for old school football lovers. Grizzly defenses and tough running games will take center stage. Controlling the tempo will be key. Only one team will win, but both will be bloodied after this battle.