2012 Buffalo Wild Wings - Mich St 17, TCU 16

Posted Dec 30, 2012

2012-2013 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings

2012 Buffalo Wild Wings

TCU vs. Michigan State

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central

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National Rankings
89th Total Offense 63rd
4th Total Defense 18th
107th Scoring Offense 60th
10th Scoring Defense 35th
72nd Rushing Offense 64th
8th Run Defense 10th
77th Passing Offense 55th
9th Passing Defense 52nd
59th Turnover Margin 38th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
M   T
2.5 Quarterbacks 3
4.5 RBs 3
2.5 Receivers 4
3 O Line 3
4 D Line 4
4.5 Linebackers 4
5 Secondary 4
3.5 Spec Teams 3.5
4.5 Coaching 5
Michigan State (6-6) vs. TCU (7-5)
Dec. 29, 10:15, ESPN

Here's The Deal … This wasn't exactly how things were supposed to work out for Michigan State, and TCU might be starting to get used to bigger stages after winning the Rose Bowl two years ago, but it should be a solid matchup between two teams that play lots and lots of defense.

Everything was expected to be in place for the Spartans to get over the Big Ten championship hump and on to Pasadena, only needing the passing game to come around in a hurry after losing quarterback Kirk Cousins and all the top receivers. Instead, the drops didn't stop, the air show was wildly inefficient, and a season with big performances from running back Le'Veon Bell, along with the defense, basically went to waste.

Really, really close to doing big things, MSU's five conference losses all came by a grand total of 13 points – all five games could've done either way. However, there was an inexcusable double overtime home gaffe to Iowa and gags in East Lansing against Ohio State, Nebraska and Northwestern when there were plenty of chances to pull wins out of the fire.

Sparty needed a win over Minnesota just to become bowl eligible, while TCU is limping into the bowl after losing two of its last six games. A rocky offseason full of arrests and scandal, and the loss of starting quarterback Casey Pachall early on to a personal issue, put the first season in the Big Ten in jeopardy throughout, but head coach Gary Patterson was able to ramp up the D that finished first in the conference, and there were just enough key wins early – and a great victory at Texas on Thanksgiving – to get the shot at the Spartans. This isn't a flashy team by any stretch, but it's very good, very sound, and very able to make a statement by closing out its tough season on a high note. This is a young squad with a bright future – a win would do wonders for the offseason.

This is just the second meeting between the two schools with MSU winning the only one 26-19 in 1953. TCU has been phenomenal in bowls under Patterson with six wins in the last seven – only losing to an unbeaten Boise State in the 2010 Fiesta – while Michigan State has been a perennial disaster, losing five in a row before shocking Georgia in a three-OT thriller in last season's Outback.

One of the more inconsistent bowls over the last several years, what used to be called the Insight Bowl produced a classic in 2006 – a Texas Tech overtime win over Minnesota – and two tight battles over the last three years with Iowa beating Missouri by three in 2010 and Iowa State beating Minnesota by one in 2009, and if everything goes according to plan, this year's matchup should be another strong fight.

Players to Watch: Michigan State was hoping for a big season out of junior running back Le'Veon Bell, and it got everything it could've asked for and more. The bruiser finished third in the nation in rushing yards per game rushing for 1,648 yards and 11 touchdowns, highlighted by a 210-yard, two score day on 44 carries against Boise State, and when the team needed it the most, a 266-yard, one touchdown performance to beat Minnesota and become bowl eligible. With power, quickness, decent blocking ability and nice hands as a receiver, he can do it all. With the NFL calling, and with time off to rest, be shocked if he doesn't touch the ball well over 30 times.

Looking to keep Bell running inside, while also getting into the backfield on a regular basis, is TCU wunderkind, Devonte Fields, a speedy true freshman who took the Big 12 by storm with nine sacks, 22 tackles for loss and 47 stops. While his production as a pass rusher slowed down over the second half of the season, with his speed, quickness and drive, he should give the Spartan backfield fits.

MSU is full of defensive stars, but it's junior linebacker Max Bullough who keeps it all together. While he's not flashy and he's not going to come up with many huge plays in the backfield – unless he's facing Wisconsin - he's rock solid against the run and doesn't miss any stops. A lock to come up with at least ten tackles, he'll be the key for the Sparty run defense.

TCU will win if … it stops the run. The TCU defensive front has to dare MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell to make key throws deep. The Horned Frogs will sell out to stop Bell and the ground attack, and for good reason. The Spartans ran well in the loss to Nebraska, but they scored nine of their 12 touchdowns in wins, and other than the win over Wisconsin, never came through with the passing game needed in the clutch. TCU allowed 100 rushing yards just six times this year, beating Virginia with ease in one of the games, and losing four of the other five, going 5-1 when holding teams under 100.

Offensively, it's simple for TCU – don't throw picks. For some reason, lost fumbles haven't been an issue with the team going 3-1 when giving up two or more. However, picks have coincided with big problems going 0-3 when giving away two or more and 7-2 when giving up fewer than two. MSU has come up with more than two picks in three games.

Michigan State will win if … it doesn't allow a rushing score. TCU might need to slow down the Spartan ground attack, but it's a really, really big deal for MSU to stop the Horned Frogs. The D gave up a rushing touchdown to Notre Dame, one to Ohio State, one to Iowa and two to Nebraska – that's it, but MSU lost all four games. Michigan was able to slip by in the rivalry game without scoring a rushing touchdown, but it didn't get in the end zone. Northwestern's ground game was shut down cold, but it was able to barely get by because of a great day from the passing attack. No one else, including Wisconsin and Boise State, was able to do anything on the ground. TCU has a passing game, but MSU and its ninth-ranked pass defense will take its chances with Trevone Boykin throwing the ball.

On the other side of the ball, MSU can't give TCU a short field or any big breaks. The Horned Frogs feast off of mistakes with the aggressive defense doing a great job of turning games around with the right play at the key time going 4-0 when coming up with two or more picks. Texas Tech is the only team that didn't give the ball away to TCU through the air – despite throwing the ball 42 times – but Texas and Baylor were killed by turnovers and Virginia was buried by its three giveaways. MSU isn't bad at holding on to the ball, but it was a bit leaky down the stretch turning it over eight times in the final three games.

What Will Happen: Don't expect a lot of points. It'll be a sloppy game offensively, mostly because the two defenses will be so stifling. However, MSU will get Bell and the running game going just enough early to get a lead, and then it'll hang on for dear life as the defense holds firm time and again. It'll hardly be a fun and wild shootout, but it'll be an entertaining, gripping game for a full four quarters.

CFN Prediction: Michigan State 20 … TCU 16
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) TCU -2.5 O/U: 41

Insight Bowl History
2011 Oklahoma 31, Iowa 14
2010 Iowa 27, Missouri 24
2009 Iowa State 14, Minnesota 13
2008 Kansas 42, Minnesota 21
2007 Oklahoma State 49, Indiana 33
2006 Texas Tech 44, Minn. 41 OT
2005 Arizona State 45, Rutgers 40
2004 Oregon St 38, Notre Dame 21
2003 California 52, Virginia Tech 49
2002 Pittsburgh 38, Oregon State 13
2001 Syracuse 26, Kansas State 3
2000 Iowa State 37, Pitt 29
1999 Colorado 62, Boston College 28
1998 Missouri 34, West Virginia 31
1997 Arizona 20, New Mexico 14
1996 Wisconsin 38, Utah 10
1995 Texas Tech 55, Air Force 41
1994 Brigham Young 31, Oklahoma 6
1993 Kansas State 52, Wyoming 17
1991 Indiana 24, Baylor 0
1990 California 17, Wyoming 15
1989 Arizona 17, NC State 10