Kansas State (7-5) and Michigan (7-5) are preparing to battle in the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, which takes place at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 28.
Michigan will unfortunately be without starting quarterback Devin Gardner, who broke his ankle in the final game of the season against Ohio State. True freshman Shane Morris will get the start in his place, as noted by CBS Sports' Eye on College FBall on Twitter:
Michigan QB Devin Gardner will not play in bowl game - http://t.co/t483Thcn3m True frosh Shane Morris to get the start.— Eye on College FBall (@EyeOnCFB) December 26, 2013
Gardner took to Twitter to express his understandable frustration:
Michigan started the 2013 season strong, winning six of its first seven games. However, the second half of the season proved a difficult challenge that saw the Wolverines win just one of their last five.
Kansas State's 2013 campaign was just the opposite. The Wildcats were slow out of the gates and posted a 2-4 record in the first six games before going on a 5-1 run to close out the season.
Here's a look at when and where you can catch the action, along with betting information and injury reports for both teams.
When: Saturday, Dec. 28, at 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Betting Lines (via Covers)
- Over/Under: 55.5 points
- Spread: Kansas State (-4.5)
Team Injury Reports (via USA Today)
|Ty Zimmerman||DB||Questionable (foot), Dec. 22|
|Keenan Taylor||OL||Questionable (knee), Dec. 22|
|Logan Thompson||LB||Questionable (disciplinary), Dec. 22|
|Devin Gardner||QB||Out (foot) Dec. 26|
|Tom Strobel||DE||Questionable (undisclosed), Dec. 22|
|James Ross III||LB||Questionable (undisclosed), Dec. 22|
|Brendan Gibbons||PK||Questionable (undisclosed), Dec. 22|
|Thomas Rawls||RB||Questionable (knee), Dec. 22|
|Wyatt Shallman||RB||Out (hip), Dec. 12|
|Joey Burzynski||OL||Out (knee), Dec. 12|
|Ondre Pipkins||DT||Out (knee), Nov. 2|
|Drake Johnson||RB||Out (knee), Sept. 3|
|Russell Bellomy||QB||Out (knee), Aug. 30|
|Will Hagerup||P||Out (suspension), Aug. 30|
|Amara Darboh||WR||Out (foot), Aug. 23|
How Will Michigan's Offense Fare With an Inexperienced Freshman QB?
The news of Gardner's injury hit Michigan fans like a punch in the gut on Dec. 26.
Though the Wolverines haven't been stellar on offense this season, Gardner has been the biggest playmaker for Brady Hoke all season long.
The true freshman, Morris, who is replacing Gardner in this game, only attempted nine passes all season long, completing five for 65 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception.
It appears his teammates are 100 percent behind him, however. Receiver Jehu Chesson spoke to reporters about what he expects, according to Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press:
He does a good job getting the ball to us, reading the defense. A lot of people talk about his arm, he has a good arm, a great arm. People talk about, does he throw the ball too hard? Shane, when he’s going to be in the game, he’s going to make the right throws at the right times and the right decisions. Because that’s what a Michigan quarterback’s expected to do.
Hoke revealed that he's had to scale back his playbook a bit for the young signal-caller, however, according to Nick Baumgardner of MLive.com: "We've scaled some things back. But there's a lot of offense in there still."
In addition to a simplified playbook, fans should expect to see a heavy dose of Michigan's running game. Kansas State's defensive players will be salivating at the prospect of an inexperienced quarterback, and the Wolverines must protect him by pounding the ball between the tackles.
It's hard to imagine Michigan will pull out a win in light of Gardner's injury. Even if the junior quarterback had been healthy, the game was likely going to be a close one.
As things currently stand, Kansas State should be able to easily come away with a win.
Which team will win?
The Wildcats recently gave Oklahoma a run for its money, losing 41-31, and the Sooners will be taking on Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Kansas State has been red-hot down the home stretch, averaging 36.7 points per game in its last six.
Michigan's defense won't be able to carry the day, and the freshman quarterback will struggle under the bright lights.
Kansas State wins, 35-17.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78