Michigan State-Texas Tech Alamo Bowl Preview: Can Spartans Upset Red Raiders?

Nick MordowanecCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2009

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 10: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans argues with a referee during a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini on October 10, 2009 at Memorial Stadium at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Illinois 24-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

As all the NCAA’s bowl matchups have been announced, there were certain bowls and teams many fans searched for immediately.


You have your usual suspects like Florida and Texas, along with underrated programs like TCU and Boise State.


BCS bowls are of the utmost performance, but the smaller, “lesser” bowls still mean a heck of a lot to other schools’ fans.


One such bowl is the Alamo Bowl, being played this season on Jan. 2. This year’s game will pit the Michigan State Spartans against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.


Although the teams are not as evenly matched on paper as some would like to believe, other elements will have an impact on the outcome of the game.


The elements I am speaking of do include the weather conditions. I’m talking specifically about outside circumstances that occurred far away from the football field—several Michigan State suspensions, to be more precise.


As I have written about, the Spartans are currently in the midst of a big PR incident. With eight players suspended from the team, including some starters, the Spartans will be heavily undermanned against an explosive Texas Tech team—not to mention the psyche of the team will be put into question for the next three weeks.


Texas Tech (8-4, 5-3) had a good season in a rather tough conference, especially considering that Tech had to play a Texas team that is now set to play for a national championship.


While the team does not have studs like Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree playing pitch-and-catch anymore, they can still put up points in bunches. Quarterback Taylor Potts is just another player in a line of Texas Tech quarterbacks who can hurl the pigskin down the field.


Looking at Michigan State (6-6, 4-4), the Spartans will have to play nearly perfect on both sides of the ball to snatch victory.


Quarterback Kirk Cousins had a very solid season in his first year under center, filling in admirably for former starter Brian Hoyer. Receiver Blair White was among the best in the entire Big Ten, scoring eight touchdowns and making big plays at crucial times.


However, the running game has been less than stellar. It is hard to blame Larry Caper and Edwin Baker for lack of production, as both players are freshmen. If the Red Raiders focus on Cousins and the passing game, it could spell trouble for Michigan State.


Then there are the defenses.


Texas Tech is nationally known for its offense, but its defensive unit isn’t chopped liver either. The defense can make plays when need be.


Michigan State, on the other hand, has had many trials and tribulations. The defense gave up points in bunches, had trouble stopping the pass, and allowed 29 touchdown passes. Losing their best corner—Chris L. Rucker—will not help out a reeling defense either. If the Spartans get down by a couple scores, it could be long day for the boys in green and white.


Aside from Michigan State’s legal complications, there is one other little side note about the game: It’s played in Texas! The Red Raiders have an extreme home-field advantage in the first-ever meeting between these two programs. While Spartans from near and far will make the trip to San Antonio, fans will mostly be donned in red and black.


With plenty of time remaining between now and the game, the pressure is definitely on Michigan State to devise a game plan sufficient to contain the pass and put some big points on the board.


Odds makers will be heavily favoring Texas Tech, but sometimes bowl games are about more than just statistics on a piece of paper.