Rose Bowl Preview: No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 4 Michigan State

online Helvetica, hospital Arial, ‘Nimbus Sans L’, sans-serif;”>The 100th edition of The Granddaddy of them All features the best of the west and (second?) best of the B1G.

Who: No. 5 Stanford Cardinal vs. No. 4 Michigan State Spartan

What: The Tournament of Roses Rose Bowl Game (sponsored by Vizio)

When: January 1, 2014

Game time: 3:30pm CT on ESPN and ESPN Radio immediately following the Rose Parade

Where: Pasadena, Calif. at the Rose Bowl stadium

A little history:

The most storied of all the bowl games, the Rose Bowl features the best of the PAC 12 versus the best of the Big Ten. The game is held annually on New Years’ Day at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. and it’s the main event in the Tournament of Roses. Bands from both participating schools participate in the Rose Parade held New Years’ morning, and the nation is introduced to the Rose Queen and the rest of the court. Players and coaches from both teams participate in Disney media day at Disneyland in Anaheim and the Lawry’s Beef Bowl in Beverly Hills.

The first Rose Bowl game was played in 1902. Michigan beat Stanford in a 49-0 blowout, a new tradition was born and there was nary a sponsor in sight. Now, one hundred years later, they’re favored to win their second consecutive Rose Bowl. With a win, Cardinal head coach David Shaw will solidify himself as one of the best in the

Stanford head coach David Shaw (left) with Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio at Disney Media Day in Anaheim, Calif. Photo credit: thestate.com

business and will get even more NFL offers than are already being thrown at him.

How they got here:

The Spartans beat the Buckeyes in a huge B1G Championship game upset. But no matter who won, most people believe the Spartans would have ended up here anyway; with Ohio State essentially playing for a national championship bid, Michigan State would have backed in to the Rose Bowl with a loss. Stunningly they not only beat the Buckeyes, but also took them out of the national championship contention.

On the the other side, we’ve got Stanford. The defending Rose Bowl champion had only two losses this year and they were close ones to Utah and USC. They rolled over Arizona State in Tempe in the Pac 12 championship game to find themselves back in Pasadena to defend their title as Rose Bowl champs.

What to expect:

Defense, defense and more defense. Prepare yourselves; I’m about to drop some numbers. Stanford is tenth nationally in all-around defense with 18.7 points per game given up; the Spartans are fourth with 12.7. Stanford’s offense, however, averages over 33 points per game.

Spartans’ senior linebacker and team captain Max Bullough won’t be playing for violating undisclosed team rules, and that opens up a big hole for Stanford and quarterback Kevin Hogan to exploit. Is he Andrew Luck? No. Who is? But he’s beaten high-scoring Oregon twice and has brought his team back to the Rose Bowl. To be fair, Wisconsin (last year’s Rose Bowl entrant from the B1G) didn’t present nearly as much of a challenge as the Spartans will,

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan. Photo credit: CBS Sports

but there’s something to be said about consistency.

With the loss of Bullough, senior Kyle Elsworth will take his place at linebacker and sophomore Darien Harris will also get in for a few plays. A former walk on, Elsworth will be starting in his first and last game as a Spartan in the Rose Bowl. Darien, on the other hand, will be getting a head start on the first team linebacker position for 2014 with his play January 1st.

The offenses:

Hogan has the tough job of being the quarterback after the NFL Indianapolis Colts’ Luck, who is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play at Stanford. But Hogan has taken command of the offense and has been more than just a game manager. The sophomore quarterback has gone through some growing pains, yet he’s managed to get the Cardinal’s back in the Rose Bowl – a tough feat.

Then we’ve got Spartans’ quarterback Connor Cook who had only one game of over 300 yards passing this season. Which game? Against Ohio State in the conference championship game (great timing, huh?). Cook has been consistently reliable, and because of that he’s been overshadowed by the Spartans’ dominating defense. Cook, who began the season as a backup, fought for the job and performed well enough to keep his first team status during week three.

The prediction:

I’m notoriously bad at predicting who will win (see: all columns I’ve written for this site

Stanford’s mascot. Could they not find a bird costume?

ever). But I do feel it is my duty as a sports columnist for this site to give you my opinion on who will win. And I take my job very seriously which is why I post so many stupid mascot photos and gratuitous “Josh Freeman is kinda hot” pics. But I digress….

Who will win this game? Everyone agrees that it’ll be a close one, but it’s an even split among sports writers who will edge it out. Because I’m a homer (and because they managed to beat the Buckeyes), I’m going with the Spartans. They’ve got a better quarterback, a better defense and a better mascot (A tree? Really, Stanford?). With that said, it wouldn’t shock me if Stanford won. They’ve been there and done that. They’re used to the media surrounding such a storied event and won’t let that southern California sunshine and celebrity sightings faze them. Regardless, this will be a great game and a fun way to start of the new year…..or maybe make that hangover a little big less miserable. 🙂

Stanford 24, Michigan State 28

 

About the author: Sharon Steed. Weekly Sports Recap Correspondent. Sharon is a Twitter-obsessed sports junkie covering all of the crazy things that happen sports for SDI. A Chicago-area native, her earliest sports memories are watching Michael Jordan and her beloved Bulls wreak havoc on the NBA in the 90’s. She loves March Madness, hates the Packers, and will absolutely shed real tears if the Bears ever win the Super Bowl. When she’s not hanging out on Twitter, she spends her time working as a freelance web writer and content manager for small businesses.  You can follower her on Twitter @sharonsteed.

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