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Rose Bowl Preview: No.4 Michigan State Spartans vs. No.5 Stanford Cardinal

Rose Bowl – Rose Bowl, Pasadena,CA

No.4 Michigan State Spartans(12-1) vs. No.5 Stanford Cardinal(11-2), 1/1/14 5:00 EST ESPN

#RoseBowl100 between @MSU_Football and @StanfordFball! Who will take this home? pic.twitter.com/emOa05Tzoc

— Rose Bowl Game (@rosebowlgame) December 30, 2013

The 100th Rose Bowl is going to be an all-out brawl on the field. No.5 Stanford Cardinal will travel to Pasadena, CA to face the No.4 Michigan State Spartans. These two teams are very different, but they are also the same in a few ways. They are both extremely physical and running the ball is a priority with both coaches. Both teams also have a prominent veteran presence, which helps with the experience and maturity of both teams.

 

Michigan State is one of the few teams in college football that win games on the defensive side of the football. With more and more air raid type of offenses around college football, Michigan State is one of the few teams that still run a pro-style offense. They will run the football and throw mostly on play action plays. Junior running back Jeremy Langford rushed for 1,338 yards and 17 touchdowns. Langford is a big back that can wear a defense down over the course of four quarters. If he and his offensive line can get a push on the vaunted Stanford front 7, they have a chance to make some things happen.

 

Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook has done a good job leading this team to a 12-1 record including a win against Ohio State in the Big 12 Championship. Cook completed 58.4% of his passes for 2,433 yards and 20 touchdowns, throwing only 5 interceptions in the process.

This Spartan defense has NFL caliber talent all over the field. Three of their defensive starters have over 70 tackles.  Senior linebacker Denicos Allen leads the team with 91 tackles, junior safety Kurtis Drummond has 86 tackles, and senior linebacker Max Bullough, who is suspended for this game, has 76. The loss of Bullough is big for this defense as he is a leader on and off the field for the Spartans. Sparty is also tied for 6th in the nation in the turnover margin with 27 turnovers this season. Starting cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Kurtis Drummond both have 4 interceptions this year. This defense is 2nd in the nation against the run so if they can force Kevin Hogan to pass more than 25 times they should be able to get some turnovers and possibly win the game.

The No.5 Stanford Cardinal are trying to repeat as Rose Bowl champs this year. For that to happen they are going to have to run the football effectively. If the Spartan defense is well rested, it will be tough for Stanford to gain momentum and score points. Junior quarterback Kevin Hogan will have to be good at the line of scrimmage to keep his team in the right play. Hogan completed 61.4% of his passes for 2,492 yards with 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.

The X factors on this Cardinal offense will be Tyler Gaffney and Ty Montgomery. Gaffney, a senior running back has rushed for 1,626 yards and 20 touchdowns. His 1,626 yards is good enough for 8h I the nation and his 20 touchdowns is 6th in the nation. Tyler is a handful to get down as he runs behind what might be the best offensive line in college football. The Stanford running game will have its hardest test yet against Michigan States 2nd ranked rush defense.  Montgomery is one of those players that you make sure to get the football to in a variety of ways. Ty’s electrifying kick returns and blazing speed make him the Cardinals best offensive weapon. Montgomery has 159 yards rushing, 937 yards receiving, and 997 kick return yards, that is 2,093 total yards for the junior wide receiver out of Dallas, Texas.

Stanford has one of the best front 7 in the nation. Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy are just two of many NFL prospects who will be on the field for the Cardinal. Murphy, a senior, is 2nd in the nation with 14 sacks. Murphy is also 6th in the nation with 21.5 tackles for loss. Skov leads the team in tackles with 100 and he has 10 tackles for loss, which is 3rd best on the team.  The entire Stanford defense will have to be physical and tackle well because Michigan States Jeremy Langford is a handful to bring down. Getting off the field on third down is essential so they do not get tired and give up big chunks of yardage. Stanford has the number 3 rushing defense in the country so it might be tough for Sparty to get going on the ground.

Both of these teams have had great seasons. The No.4 Michigan State Spartans ended Ohio State’s 24 game winning streak and the No.5 Stanford Cardinal added a dominant win against the then No.2 Oregon Ducks to their resume. Both coaches Mark Dantonio and David Shaw have done a magnificent job getting their teams in position to be the 100th Rose Bowl champions.

 

 Follow Me On Twitter: @JOnTheSidelines 

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