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TCU vs. MICHIGAN STATE
Saturday, Dec. 29, 10:15 pm
Two defensive-oriented teams that had much bigger expectations. The Spartans had won a school-record 11 games the previous two seasons and were in the Top 15 of the preseason polls, with many expecting them to win the Big Ten. But it was clear their offense badly missed three-year starting QB Kirk Cousins – now RG3’s backup -- as it struggled all season under new starter Andrew Maxwell. But Sparty might have been the unluckiest team in the nation. It definitely didn’t deserve to beat Notre Dame, but MSU’s five Big Ten losses were by a combined 13 points. The Spartans tied an NCAA record by having seven consecutive games decided by four points or less. At least this game isn’t in East Lansing, where State was 2-5 in 2012 and didn’t cover once.
Texas Christian thought it would contend in its first season in the Big 12, but the team really went in the toilet for a while when starting QB Casey Pachall left the team and then school (top rusher Waymon James was lost to injury early in the season). The Frogs, a very young team, started 5-1 but lost four of their final six – two in overtime. It’s also a good thing this game isn’t in Fort Worth as TCU was just 2-4 there. The Frogs’ five losses this season were as many as Coach Gary Patterson’s defeats in the four previous seasons combined.
TCU’s run defense is excellent but hasn’t faced the type of power game that Bell and the Spartans will bring. That said, the Frogs defense was pretty solid two years against a similar Wisconsin team in the Rose Bowl. If Bell doesn’t have a big game, MSU won’t score. It will come down to the ground game and turnovers. The Frogs have won 47 straight games when rushing for more yards than passing. Since 2005, TCU is 48-2 when ahead in turnover margin. The crowd should be pro-TCU, especially with the Spartans not even being able to sell their allotment of 11,000 tickets. I simply believe the Big 12 is better than the Big Ten this year, and these teams are essentially in the same pecking order in the conference. But all that said I have this game as basically a pickem and right now truly do not have an opinion on the game although I do lean to the Under at the moment. As we get closer Im sure something will move in the right direction. I usually dont like playing on the Big Ten quite often in bowl season but I have had a feeling about this game since the beginning and think with everyone coming back healthy and a month to prepare that Michigan State comes into this game with something to prove. Not an overwhelmingly strong play but lets close off the day with another winner.