The 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is set and will feature the TCU Horned Frogs facing off against the Michigan State Spartans.
Both of these teams have had rocky seasons, with the Spartans winning just six games and the Horned Frogs winning only seven in their first season in the Big 12. Those win totals are low considering that each won 11 games in 2011.
Both Michigan St. and TCU are desperate to prove that they are better than their rollercoaster seasons indicate, and both will try to prove that in this bowl game. It is one of the toughest games to predict, as it pairs two teams that are extremely evenly matched and very talented.
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
When: 10:15 pm EST, Saturday, December 29th, 2012
Radio: ESPN Radio
Live Streaming: ESPN3
Betting Line: TCU -5 (via pregame.com)
The biggest storyline for this game has to be two proud programs who have taken a substantial dip in success this season, although each has done so for different reasons.
In TCU’s case, they just finished their first full season as a member of the Big 12, and it was clear that the tougher schedule took time to adjust to. Posting a record of 7-5 in one of the country’s toughest conferences, however, proves that this program belongs in such a league.
Michigan State does not have such an excuse to fall back on. After posting an 11-3 record in 2011, the Spartans took a major step back this season, falling to 6-6. A losing conference record has to be disappointing for a team that fared so much better last season.
These two teams have both struggled to win this season, but for very different reasons. TCU is battling to prove that it belongs in one of the nation’s toughest conferences, while Michigan State is showing that it is nowhere near the team it was a year ago.
QB Casey Pachall Suspension (Left school for Drug/Alcohol Rehab)
C Michael Thompson Out for Season (Knee)
RB Waymon James Out for Season (Knee)
DE Ross Forest Out for Season (Knee)
QB: 2-Trevone Boykin, R-FR (6'2", 215)
10-Matt Brown, SO (6'1", 189)
12-Tyler Matthews, FR (6'3", 215)
RB: 29-Matthew Tucker, SR (6'1", 227)
23-B.J. Catalon, FR (5'9", 185)
30-Aundre Dean, SR (6', 215)
WR: 82-Josh Boyce, JR (6', 203)
88-Cam White, SO (6'3", 200)
WR: 85-LaDarius Brown, R-FR (6'4", 220)
7-Kolby Listenbee, FR (6'1", 185)
WR: 11-Skye Dawson, SR (5'9", 183)
14-David Porter, SO (6', 195)
WR: 3-Brandon Carter, SO (5'11", 161)
15-David Bush, R-FR (5'9", 180)
LT: 59-Tayo Fabuluje, SO (6'7", 315)
74-Halapoulivaati Vaitai, FR (6'6", 305)
LG: 73-Eric Tausch, JR (6'3", 300)
56-Joey Hunt, FR (6'3", 285)
65-Brady Foltz, R-FR (6'4", 300)
C: 64-James Fry, SR (6'3", 305)
56-Joey Hunt, FR (6'3", 285)
RG: 66-Blaize Foltz, SR (6'4", 310)
75-John Wooldridge, JR (6'5" 310)
77-Jamelle Naff, R-FR (6'4", 311)
RT: 69-Aviante Collins, FR (6'6", 310)
74-Halapoulivaati Vaitai, FR (6'6", 305)
TE: 86-Corey Fuller, SR (6'6", 255)
87-Griffin Gilbert, FR (6'5", 220)
43-Cliff Murphy, SO (6'4", 280)
LE: 90-Stansly Maponga, JR (6'2", 265)
40-James McFarland, FR (6'3", 240)
DT: 96-Chucky Hunter, SO (6'1", 305)
98-Jon Lewis, SO (6'2", 290)
DT: 57-Davion Pierson, R-FR (6'2", 305)
53-David Johnson, SO (6'2", 270) (Out indefinitely with undisclosed injury, according to USA Today)
99-Terrell Lathan, FR (6'5", 260)
RE: 95-Devonte Fields, FR (6'4", 240)
97-Jon Koontz, JR (6'2", 265)
91-Matt Anderson, SO (6'3", 245)
MLB: 36-Joel Hasley, SO (6'1", 220)
47-Paul Dawson, SO (6'2", 230)
SLB: 51- Kenny Cain, SR (6'1", 225)
19-Antonio Graves, SO (6'2", 214)
CB: 2-Jason Verrett, JR (5'10", 180)
20-Deante' Gray, FR (5'10", 180)
CB: 25-Kevin White, SO (5'10", 174)
2-Jason Verrett, JR (5'10", 180)
SS: 17-Sam Carter, SO (6'1", 220)
26-Derrick Kindred, FR (5'10", 202)
4-Jordan Moore, FR (6'3" 210)
FS: 6-Elisha Olabode, JR (5'10", 192)
28-Geoff Hooker, SO (5'10", 180)
WS: 1-Chris Hackett, R-FR (6'2", 200)
41-Jonathan Anderson, SO (6'3", 208)
23-Trent Thomas, JR (5'11", 190)
K: 33-Jaden Oberkrom, FR (6'3", 182)
24-Ryan DeNucci, SO (5'10", 190)
SN: 50-Daniel Shelley, SR (6'1", 228)
H: 31-Cale Patterson, SR (5'11", 185)
KO: 33-Jaden Oberkrom, FR (6'3", 182)
P: 37-Ethan Perry, FR (6'4", 230)
31-Cale Patterson, SR (5'11", 185)
KR: 11-Skye Dawson, SR (5'9", 183)
82-Josh Boyce, JR (6', 203)
PR: 11-Skye Dawson, SR (5'9", 183)
Deante' Gray, FR (5'10", 180)
3-Brandon Carter, SO (5'11", 161)
C Travis Jackson Out for Season (Broken Leg and Torn MCL)
DL Brandon Clemons Out for Season (Foot)
QB: 10 Andrew Maxwell — 18 Connor Cook
RB: 24 Le'Veon Bell — 22 Larry Caper
WR1: 25 Keith Mumphery — 21 Andrew Sims
WR2: 16 Aaron Burbridge — 13 Bennie Fowler
FB: 8 Lawrence Thomas — 28 Niko Palazeti
TE: 80 Dion Sims — Paul Lang
OT: 59 Dan France — 76 Donavon Clark
OT: 70 Skyler Burkland — 65 Michael Dennis
OG: 62 Chris McDonald — 72 Nate Klatt
OG: 66 Jack Allen — 64 Blake Treadwell
C: 68 Ethan Ruhland — 66 Jack Allen
DE: 44 Marcus Rush — 89 Shilique Calhoun
DE: 2 William Gholston — 92 Joel Heath
NT: 98 Anthony Rashad White — 99 James Kittredge
DT: 60 Micajah Reynolds — 91 Tyler Hoover
LB: 10 Chris Norman — 34 Taiwan Jones
LB: 28 Denicos Allen — 43 Ed Davis
LB: 40 Max Bullough — 41 Kyler Elsworth
CB: 31 Darqueze Dennard — 32 Mitchell White
CB: 5 Johnny Adams — 36 Arjen Colguhoun
S: 9 Isaiah Lewis — 26 R.J. Williamson
S: 27 Kurtis Drummond — 23 Jairus Jones
P: 3 Mike Sadler
K: 4 Dan Conroy — 17 Kevin Muma
H: 10 Andrew Maxwell
LS: 51 Steve Moore
KR: 20 Nick Hill — 13 Bennie Fowler
PR: 20 Nick Hill
After Casey Pachall left the program to seek inpatient help for his drug and alcohol problems, it looked like TCU's season was in jeopardy. Trevone Boykin has helped right the ship in a major way.
The redshirt freshman has transitioned nicely into the starting role, completing 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,853 yards. He also has some nice wheels, rushing 114 times for 380 yards and three scores.
Despite the regressions Michigan State has taken this season, the Spartans still have a stellar defensive unit. Boykin will be responsible for making this offense move down the field, and it will not be easy. The Spartans only allow just 16.3 points per game, which is almost two full touchdowns less than what the Horned Frogs score on average per game.
Boykin is talented, but inexperienced. The TCU coaches and fans have to be hoping that the experience he has gained in the last eight games will be enough to power the Horned Frogs past the Spartans.
There is no question about who has been the biggest positive for the Michigan State Spartans this season. Le’Veon Bell is the real deal, and he has been the main reason the Spartans offense has not completely regressed into oblivion following the departure of Kirk Cousins.
The junior running back has rushed for 1,648 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per rush. That average may not sound too impressive until you consider the fact that the kid ran the ball an average of nearly 30 times per game this season.
Bell broke the 100-yard mark in seven games, the 200-yard mark in three games and has over 150 receiving yards this season as well. His season has been impressive enough for BR’s own Matt Miller to consider Bell the second-best running back in the 2013 NFL Draft class.
Andrew Maxwell vs. Devonte Fields
Michigan State starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell has played better than most have given him credit for this season. He has completed over 50 percent of his passes for 2,578 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has not been a star, but he certainly has not been the terrible player that some have made him out to be.
Devonte Fields has proven that, even as a true freshman, he is destined for stardom. He has 49 tackles on the season from the defensive end position, with 17.5 of those being for a loss and nine of those being sacks. He has also recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass, proving that he can do a little bit of everything.
Despite heralding from the offense-heavy Big 12, TCU head coach Gary Patterson is a defensive guy whose team plays solid defense. Maxwell will have to contend with Fields all day, especially in obvious passing situations. Those will come, and it will be interesting to see how Maxwell handles the pressure Fields brings at him.
Trevone Boykin vs. Spartan Defense
Mike Dantonio is a believer in defense just like Gary Patterson is, and you can bet that his team will be pumped and ready to prove itself defensively against a team from the Big 12 land of potent offenses.
The Spartans are giving up just 16.3 points and 273.2 yards of offense per game. TCU is averaging 29.3 points scored and 397 yards of offense per game. Something’s got to give, and the biggest X-factor in that equation will be the play of Trevone Boykin.
He is young, but he has proven himself against some good teams in his eight games as the starter. Boykin is averaging about 200 yards of offense per game by himself, which accounts for about half of the team’s output. The Spartans will key on him, and he must respond if TCU wants to have any hope of winning this bowl game.
TCU will win the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl if it can move the ball down the field on long drives. Michigan State has a tough defense, but any defense can be worn down by an offense that has all the right answers to stay on the field a long time and score.
The Horned Frogs have had trouble doing that so far this season, converting just 34 percent of their third down attempts. The Spartans have held their opponents to 31 percent for that stat, which also does not bode well for the Frogs.
TCU should be able to stop the Spartans at points in this game, but if they cannot stay on the field on offense it will not matter. Offense and defense are opposite sides of the same coin, and the TCU offense has not been able to support its defense as well as it needs to.
Michigan State will win the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl if it can keep TCU’s offense off the field. The Spartans defense is very good, but TCU has playmakers and can score. Leaving the defense out on the field too long will result in a Spartan loss.
Both of these teams average about 33 minutes in time of possession. Each is accustomed to winning that battle, but obviously that cannot happen in this game. If the Spartans want to win, they must win that stat.
Michigan State’s offense has been unreliable at times this season, but it must convert first downs if it wants to win the game. Holding on to the ball as long as possible will be the best offense and defense for Michigan State in this game.
This will be a ground-and-pound game on both sides as each team tries to impose its will on the other. Michigan State will be feeding the ball to Le’Veon Bell as much as possible, while TCU will have Trevone Boykin and running backs B.J. Catalon and Matthew Tucker attacking the Spartan defense on the ground from all angles.
It will be a close one to the finish, as each team tries to keep the other from getting into the endzone. Bell will have a big game as he usually does in these situations, rushing for at least 150 yards by the night’s end. Boykin will play well also, using his athleticism to get yards against the athletic Spartan defense.
Ultimately though, one team will have the ball a little longer and be able to pound out just a few more points. Superior athleticism and a superior star will be the advantage that makes that happen.
Prediction: Michigan State 24, TCU 20