After some incredible conference championship games, the 2014 Rose Bowl is set, as the Michigan State Spartans will be playing the Stanford Cardinal.
The Spartans took down the undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes 34-24 in the Big Ten championship, sealing the victory after a big touchdown run from Jeremy Langford. Meanwhile, the Cardinal came away with an easy win, blowing out the Arizona State Sun Devils 38-14 thanks to another big game from Tyler Gaffney.
Let's take a look at the date and start time for this season's Rose Bowl, followed by a breakdown of both teams and a prediction for the final score.
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 1
Time: 2 p.m. PT, 5 p.m. ET
Stanford Cardinal (11-2, 7-2 Pac-12)
Two losses against Utah and USC certainly were disappointments this season for the Cardinal. After the loss to the Trojans, it looked like the Cardinal could have lost their opportunity to go to the conference championship. Fortunately for them, the Oregon Ducks got blown out by Arizona just after that, which is a big reason they were able to make it to the Rose Bowl.
The big story on offense this year has been Tyler Gaffney, who has exploded in his senior season. He's now run for 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season, scoring at least once in all but one game, which came against Washington State back in September.
While the offense has been effective enough, the defense has been even more impressive. They've allowed just 18.6 points per game, which is one of the best marks in the country. Players like Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy lead the defense and continue to make big plays in almost every game.
Michigan State Spartans (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten)
The Spartans have now won nine straight games, and they've allowed six points or less in five of their last seven. The Buckeyes have one of the most explosive offenses in the country, but even they could only put up 24 points.
Offensively, the Spartans have relied on a balanced offensive attack, which has required a lot of Jeremy Langford as the season has gone on. Although he didn't run for more than 100 yards in any of his first five games, he's done so in every game since. As a junior, he has now run for 1,438 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
Before Sunday, Michigan State's run defense was one of the most dominant in the country. They had allowed just 64.8 rushing yards per game, holding opponents to just 2.2 yards per carry. While the Buckeyes put up 273 rushing yards in the conference championship, those numbers won't be that high in the Spartans' last game.
These are two very similar teams. They both rely on a strong ground game and a stingy defense, although the level of play that they've gone against has been quite different.
The Cardinal have shut down teams like Oregon, Arizona State and Oregon State. Meanwhile, the Spartans' toughest opponents have been Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame.
David Shaw has been here before, and I am quite confident that his team should be able to pull out the big win.
Stanford 28, Michigan State 24