100th Rose Bowl Game Preview

Dec. 31, 2013

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Big Ten Champion Michigan State (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten) will make its first-ever Bowl Championship Series appearance on Jan. 1, when the Spartans play Pac-12 Champion Stanford (11-2, 7-2 Pac-12) in the 100th Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO at 5:10 p.m. ET in Pasadena, Calif. Winners of nine straight, No. 4/4/4 Michigan State recorded its school-record 12th win of the 2013 season by defeating second-ranked Ohio State 34-24 in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans are heading to Pasadena for the first time since the 1988 Rose Bowl Game and competing in the contest for the fifth time in program history. Michigan State has advanced to a program-record seven straight postseason contests and is making its 24th bowl appearance in team history.  MSU is 9-14 (.391) in bowl games, including a 3-1 record in previous Rose Bowl appearances.  Following a 33-30 triple-overtime victory over Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl and a 17-16 win over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl last year, the Spartans now look to win three straight bowl games for the first time in school history.

No. 5/7/5 Stanford earned its second-straight trip to the Rose Bowl with a 38-14 victory at No. 11 Arizona State in the Pac-12 Championship Game.  Stanford is making its fourth-straight appearance in a BCS game, the longest active streak in the nation, which includes trips to the 2011 Orange Bowl, 2012 Fiesta Bowl, 2013 Rose Bowl, and 2014 Rose Bowl. Prior to the Cardinal besting Arizona State for the conference title, Stanford won the Pac-12 North for the second consecutive year with a 7-2 conference record.  The Cardinal are 46-7 (.868) since the beginning of the 2010 season, which is tied for most wins in FBS during that time period.  Since that time, Stanford has been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 for a school-record 63 consecutive weeks and has played one of the most difficult schedules this season.  Michigan State will be Stanford's eighth ranked opponent this year.

The 2014 Rose Bowl Game marks the sixth-ever meeting between Michigan State and Stanford. MSU won the first meeting, 38-14, on Oct. 8, 1955, in Spartan Stadium. The Spartans also defeated the Cardinal in 1956 and 1961. Stanford recorded its first win in the series in 1962 and won the last matchup in the 1996 Sun Bowl, 38-0.

Michigan State concluded the regular season ranked sixth in the Big Ten in scoring (29.8), seventh in rushing (182.2), eighth in passing (202.5), and ninth in total yards gained (384.6).  Jeremy Langford paces the Spartans on the ground, having accumulated 1,338 yards on 269 carries with 17 touchdowns.  Connor Cook has led the Spartans under center with 2,423 yards on 201-of-344 passing.  He threw for 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions, completing 58.4 percent of his passes.  His primary targets have been Tony Lippett and Macgarrett Kings.  Lippett has hauled in 39 catches for 519 yards and one touchdown, while Kings has also brought in 39 passes for 461 yards and three scores.

The Stanford defense enters the Rose Bowl Game ranked first in the Pac-12 in scoring (18.6) and defending the run (91.2), second in yards allowed (339.0), and eighth in stopping the pass (247.8).  The Cardinal rate third nationally in rushing defense, 10th in scoring defense and 14th in total defense.  They also rank seventh in the FBS with 40 sacks on the season.  MSU's Langford averaged 102.9 yards on the ground each time out during the regular season, but Stanford has held 25 opponents under 100 yards rushing total over the past three seasons, including nine times in 2013.  A pair of fifth-year senior linebackers lead the Stanford defense.  First-team All-American Trent Murphy sits atop the FBS with 14 sacks (111 yards) and ranks third with 21.5 tackles for loss (137 yards), while All-Pac-12 first-team selection Shayne Skov leads the team with 100 tackles, including 10 for losses (43 yards).  Additionally, Skov has notched 4.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hurries on the year.  In the secondary, Jordan Richards has recorded three interceptions for 55 yards, one of which he returned for a score.



In the Pac-12 this season, Stanford's offense rated fourth in rushing (210.9), sixth in scoring (33.2), ninth in total yards (413.1), and 11th in passing (202.2).  Senior running back Tyler Gaffney leads the Pac-12 and ranks fifth in the FBS with 20 rushing touchdowns.  He also ranks third in the FBS in rushing (124.5 ypg.) and carries (307), and seventh in rushing yards (1,618).  Gaffney rushed a school-record 45 times for 157 yards in the win over No. 2 Oregon on Nov. 7.   Junior quarterback Kevin Hogan, who is in his second year as the starter, has completed 61 percent of his passes (170-of-277) for 2,487 yards, 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions.  Hogan's primary target has been Ty Montgomery, who has hauled in 58 catches for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns.  His 16.2 yards-per-catch average is among the top-four marks in the Pac-12.  The offensive line, anchored by two-time consensus All-America guard David Yankey, has helped Stanford rank fourth nationally for fewest tackles for loss allowed/game (3.69) and 16th nationally for fewest sacks allowed/game (1.15).



Scoring Defense

Total Offense

Total Defense

Rushing Offense

Rushing Defense

Passing Offense

Passing Defense

Turnover Margin

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The storyline of the game is expected to be Michigan State's potent defense that ranks first both in the Big Ten and the nation in several categories.  Through 13 games, MSU's defense ranks No. 1 in the FBS in total defense (248.2), rushing defense (80.8) and opponent third-down conversions (.277).  The Spartans also rank among the national leaders in pass efficiency defense (2nd, 91.5 rating), first downs defense (4th, 14.5), scoring defense (4th, 12.7) and passing defense (6th, 167.4).  Michigan State joins Louisville and Virginia Tech as the only three schools in the FBS to rank in the Top 10 nationally in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing defense.  The Spartans also lead the Big Ten in seven defensive categories (total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, pass defense, pass efficiency defense, opponent third-down conversions, and first downs defense).  The Green and White have made headlines this season by creating turnovers and wreaking havoc behind the line of scrimmage.  MSU was first in the Big Ten and tied for seventh nationally with a plus-14 turnover margin, which included 27 forced turnovers.  That total comprised of 11 fumbles and 16 interceptions, the latter of which ranked third in the conference and 19th in the country.  After going the entire 2012 slate without a defensive touchdown, MSU has five this year, including three off fumble recoveries and two pick-six returns.  Two Spartans took home major individual awards from the Big Ten this year, as senior Darqueze Dennard was named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, while sophomore Shilique Calhoun was named the Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year.  In addition, Dennard, Calhoun and senior linebacker Max Bullough were first-team selections by both the coaches and media, and safeties Kurtis Drummond and Isaiah Lewis were named first-team All-Big Ten by the coaches.  Calhoun is tied for fourth in the league with 7.5 sacks, while Dennard owns 14 passes defended, which is sixth-best, and four interceptions.  Denicos Allen leads the Spartans with 91 tackles on the year, including 15.0 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, and 10 QB hurries.  Drummond is averaging 6.6 stops per game and boasts four picks on the season.  Senior Kyler Elsworth is expected to fill the vacancy at middle linebacker as Bullough did not make the trip.   

On special teams, Stanford's Montgomery not only shines at his wideout role, but also at kick returner.  The consensus All-American is the nation's best with a 31.2-yard average through 13 games. He has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns this season, including a 99-yard TD against Washington and a 100-yard return at Utah.  The Spartans boast a pair of top punt return men as Kings (10.9) and Andre Sims (8.6) rank third and sixth, respectively.  MSU's Michael Geiger was nearly perfect in his kicking duties as a freshman, making 14 of his 15 field goals and 33 of 35 PATs.  Junior punter Mike Sadler, who ranked fourth in regular season among conference kickers with a 42.3-yard average, was a first-team All-Big Ten pick by the league coaches.