The Rose Bowl Game, Presented by Vizio
Who: Michigan State (12-1, 8-0 Big Ten) vs. Stanford (11-2, 7-2 Pac-12)
Date: Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Time: 5 p.m. ET
If you're a fan of good, old-fashioned smashmouth defense, circle this game on your calendar. Then highlight it. Then maybe even break out a little glue and glitter. This is the game for you.
After a season's worth of languishing in the polls for some odd reason, Michigan State sent a wake-up call to the nation with its impressive win over Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. Another season with the nation's top overall defense is now paying dividends for the Spartans, and the Rose Bowl will be filled with green and white for the first time since 1988 when MSU knocked off USC, 20-17.
On the other side of the field, a newly familiar participant, Stanford, will be looking for its second consecutive Rose Bowl title after edging past Wisconsin last season.
The Big Ten hasn't had much success in Pasadena as of late. The Big Ten hasn't won a Rose Bowl since 2010 and has lost eight of the last nine it has participated in. But whether you live in East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Columbus or anywhere else, every Big Ten fan should not only be pulling for Sparty, but also be liking MSU's chances, too.
Stanford's running game, it's strength, is averaging 210.9 yards per game. MSU is allowing just 80.8 yards on the ground—best in the nation. Stanford's passing game ranks just 91st nationally (with MSU having the sixth-best pass defense in the FBS), meaning the Spartans rush defense will be placed front and center—right where it has been making a name for itself for years.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, a win for Michigan State in the Rose Bowl Game would mean that Sparty will likely finish as one of the top three teams in the final polls released on the heels of the BCS National Championship Game—a strong statement from a conference desperate to shake off a near decade-long malaise of negative perception around the rest of the nation.
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