Rose Bowl Matchup: Stanford Cardinal vs. Michigan State Spartans
Date/Time: January 1st, 5:00 ET
Point Spread: Stanford -6.5
The 2014 college football calendar year officially kicks off with the first of the BCS bowl games. The Stanford Cardinal and the Michigan State Spartans both pull off upsets to reach the Rose Bowl, and they are going to be facing off with each other in the Granddaddy of them All.
Stanford was one of the more vexing teams to watch this season. The club managed to win all of its biggest games, including knocking off the Arizona State Sun Devils both home and away and the Oregon Ducks at home. However, on the road this year, the team also punted games against the USC Trojans, who will only just barely finish the year ranked, and the Utah Utes, who didn’t even finish .500 nor did it make a bowl game. The stats don’t lie about this defense. The team averaged allowing 339.5 yards per game and 18.6 points per game, and the truth of the matter is that a lot of that came against the Cardinal when games were out of reach. QB Kevin Hogan didn’t do anything particularly impressive this year, but he didn’t cost the team games, and that was all that he really needed to accomplish. RB Tyler Gaffney has continued a tradition of awesome Stanford backs, rushing for 1,613 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The Spartans were a wreck at the start of this season. They only managed to put 26 on the board against the Western Michigan Broncos, and they followed that up by scoring just 21 on the South Florida Bulls in one of the worst offensive games of the entire season. However, that’s when QB Connor Cook officially replaced a struggling QB Andrew Maxwell, and the offense finally started to pick it up from there. Gone were the games of failure after failure in the red zone, and though this was never one of the most explosive offenses in the nation, the team did average 30.9 points per game when Cook was starting this year. The defense is going to be taking a hit with LB Max Bullough being suspended for the Rose Bowl, but there are still a number of NFL-caliber players on this side. The unit ranked first in the country at 247.8 yards per game allowed (Stanford nearly averages that much in just rushing yards!), and it ranked in the Top 5 in pass defense, rush defense, and scoring defense to boot.
These clubs met in the 1996 Sun Bowl, a 38-0 win for the Cardinal on New Year’s Eve. The last time Michigan State was in the Rose Bowl was 1987, and the team is 3-1 all-time in the Granddaddy of them All. Head Coach David Shaw, who very well could be leaving for the NFL when this game is over with, did win the Rose Bowl last year over the Wisconsin Badgers, the same team that the Cardinal lost to in the 1999 Rose Bowl. All-time, Stanford is 6-6-1 in 13 trips to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.