TCU HORNED FROGS (7-5)
vs. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS (6-6)
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl - Tempe, AZ
Kickoff: Saturday, 10:15 p.m. EDT
Line: TCU -3, Total: 40
In what figures to be a defensive struggle with the Over/Under set at 40, TCU and Michigan State square off in Saturday's Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, AZ.
These are similar teams in terms of defense and success away from home. TCU allows just 332 total YPG (18th in nation), while Michigan State gives up only 273 total YPG (4th in FBS). The Horned Frogs were 5-1 SU (3-3 ATS) in non-home games, while the Spartans went 4-1 (SU and ATS) outside of East Lansing, holding these teams to just 13.8 PPG. Offensively, MSU revolves around RB Le'Veon Bell (137 rush YPG, 3rd in nation), while TCU is trying to get its offense in gear after scoring just 15.7 PPG on 308 total YPG in the past three contests.
Which school will come out on top in this defensive struggle? For the answer, download your FREE copy of the StatFox Edge College Bowl Guide for all the StatFox Experts picks for each of the 35 bowls, both Against The Spread and Over/Under.
TCU has had a roller coaster season both on and off the field, most notably starting QB Casey Pachall quitting the team after four games to check into an inpatient program after an alleged DWI in early October. Freshman Trevone Boykin replaced him and managed a mediocre 15 TD and 9 INT, to go along with a solid 380 rushing yards. The Horned Frogs average 29.3 PPG and 397 total YPG (8th in Big 12), but those numbers are pretty poor compared to most pass-happy, soft defensive teams that are part of TCU's new conference. The team ranked last in the conference with 3.9 rushing yards per carry. On the flip side, the Frogs defense was very impressive considering the Big 12 style of play. They allowed 228 passing YPG, but just 6.7 YPA, and held opponents to 104 rushing YPG on 3.3 YPC. Freshman DE Devonte Fields was even better than advertised, chalking up nine sacks and 17.5 Tackles For Loss.
Michigan State's offense has struggled all year, posting just 20.2 PPG and 5.0 yards per play. The Spartans have shown good balance though with 219 passing YPG and 152 rushing YPG. But junior QB Andrew Maxwell hasn't been nearly as effective as last year's signal caller, current Redskins QB Kirk Cousins. Maxwell completed just 52.9% of his passes (last in Big Ten) and wound up with only 13 TD and 9 INT. But he hasn't needed to be great with RB Le'Veon Bell as his teammate. Bell is coming off a career-high 266 rushing yards in the season finale at Minnesota, where he scored his 11th TD of the 2012 campaign. Michigan State's rushing defense is rather impressive, allowing a mere 100 rushing YPG on just 3.3 YPC. Opponents scored a paltry five rushing touchdowns all season, which tied for the second-fewest in the nation behind top-ranked Notre Dame (2 rushing TD allowed). The Spartans defense is led by three all-conference selections in LB Max Bullough and DBs Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard.