4/5/5 BAYLOR (11-1, 8-1) vs. 7/7/8 MICHIGAN STATE (10-2, 7-1)
Jan. 1, 2015 | 11:30 a.m. CT
Arlington, Texas | AT&T Stadium (80,000)
|Watch | Skycam | Listen | Gametracker | Notes | Bowl Central|
OPPONENT: Michigan State Spartans
ODB GAME HUB: 2015 Cotton Bowl: Baylor Bears vs Michigan State Spartans
MEET THE PRESS: Baylor vs. Michigan State (Article on baylorbears.com)
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: msuspartans.com
MEDIA GUIDE: 2015 MSU Cotton Bowl Media Guide (click here for Cotton Bowl depth chart)
LAST MEETING: 28-10 Michigan State | There was no ODB hub, because the game was played in 1968.
LAST GAME (for Michigan State): Michigan State 34, Penn State 10
SB NATION BLOG: The Only Colors, at right
SPREAD: Baylor -2.5 (Open: Baylor -1.5)
TV COVERAGE: ESPN, 11:30 a.m. CST January 1, 2015
WEATHER FORECAST: Jerry World, ergo irrelevant. Though, supposedly cold in the DFW area on New Years Day
BAYLOR UNIFORMS: Chrome/??/?? (Bryce Petty confirmed Chrome helmets)
Cotton Bowl Practices began today after the team arrived in the DFW Metroplex last night. The Bears got their first meaningful time on the field at AT&T Stadium in Arlington since defeating Texas Tech there last month. The Bears got the same locker room they had for that game, so there will be an air of familiarity for the Bears in the preparations for this game. Apparently, the turf used for the Cotton Bowl is the same type of turf that the Bears have in McLane Stadium, which is sure to be a boon. I don't know if it's the same turf that's used for the Cowboys' home games; I'm not sure if they switch out just the area in the end zones and at the 50-yard line or if they replace the entire field. If you happen to know, enlighten us in the comments.
For a full report on today's practice, head over to Baylor Bears Official Site's report. It's worth the read. And now, it's time to start our look at the Michigan State Spartans.
Michigan State 2014 Schedule/Results
|Jacksonville St. Gamecocks||Friday, August 29 2014||win 45-7||coverage|
|@ Oregon Ducks||Saturday, September 06 2014||loss 27-46||coverage|
|Eastern Michigan Eagles||Saturday, September 20 2014||win 73-14||coverage|
|Wyoming Cowboys||Saturday, September 27 2014||win 56-14||coverage|
|Nebraska Cornhuskers||Saturday, October 04 2014||win 27-22||coverage|
|@ Purdue Boilermakers||Saturday, October 11 2014||win 45-31||coverage|
|@ Indiana Hoosiers||Saturday, October 18 2014||win 56-17||coverage|
|Michigan Wolverines||Saturday, October 25 2014||win 35-11||coverage|
|Ohio State Buckeyes||Saturday, November 08 2014||loss 37-49||coverage|
|@ Maryland Terrapins||Saturday, November 15 2014||win 37-15||coverage|
|Rutgers Scarlet Knights||Saturday, November 22 2014||win 45-3||coverage|
|@ Penn State Nittany Lions||Saturday, November 29 2014||win 34-10||coverage|
|@ Baylor Bears||Thursday, January 01 2015||12:30 PM EST||coverage|
The Spartans finished the regular season 10-2, with their only losses coming to Oregon and Ohio State, two of the four teams in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Both of those teams feature high-octane offenses not entirely unlike the Bears. Other than those two games, though, the Spartans were fantastic, only being held under 30 points against Nebraska, and only giving up more than 25 points once, to Purdue. Looking over their resume, it would appear that Nebraska is the Spartans' signature win on their resume that came at home during the first weekend of October, but it's also never a small deal when you defeat the Official Team of New York City 45-3, as Ted will tell you. Heads roll in the Big Apple when the Scarlet Knights fall. While compiling the stats we use from Sports-reference, I noticed that by whatever metric that site uses, Michigan State's Strength of Schedule is 64th, while the Bears' schedule is 66th.
Michigan State Individual Statistics
Connor Cook is the guy for the Spartans, and they live and die with him at the helm. The numbers, while slightly lower than Petty's are still impressive. He's only thrown six interceptions this season while tossing 22 touchdowns at a 58.2% rate of completion. Cook and Petty are both clients of QB "guru" George Whitfield, and by all accounts the two are good friends. Cook is not a threat with his legs; that will benefit the run defense, but the Bears haven't exactly struggled against the run. Cook's arm is where the trouble lies. It will be interesting to see what adjustments the Bears have made in the secondary to counter the Spartans' passing attack.
Jeremy Langford is obviously the star of the backfield, amassing twice as many yards and nearly 2.5 times the carries as Nick Hill, the second back in the Spartans' backfield. Michigan State plays a physical style of football and relies upon the rushing attack to keep the ball out of the hands of its opponents; Langford is usually the man for the job. As Ian Boyd wrote in his excellent Cotton Bowl preview, the Spartans rushing attack utilizes the trap play to great effect, and produce many different looks to confuse defensive fronts. It will be one of the most interesting matchups of the game, and if Michigan State is able to establish their rushing attack early, this could be a long game for the Bears. If you haven't, I highly recommend checking out Boyd's preview linked above. It's worth your time.
|3||Macgarrett Kings Jr.||11||67||6.1||0||26||385||14.8||1||37||452||12.2||1|
|9||Andre Sims Jr.||3||26||8.7||0||3||26||8.7||0|
Like with the rushing attack, the passing game has a primary target that Connor Cook favors more than any other: Tony Lippett. The 6'3" 185-pound receiver is arguably the best in the Big 10, and has nearly three times the catches and yards as the Spartans' second receiver. While Michigan State has four other receivers with over 20 catches on the season, Lippett is the preferred target of Cook and will have to be the thing that keeps Michigan State in the game if the flow and style of the game turns in Baylor's favor. You very well may see Lippett targeted early on to throw the Bears defense off and open up some of those running lanes for Langford. This approach would not surprise me at all, given the recent struggles of the Baylor secondary. Though their stable of weapons does not appear as deep as the Bears', make no mistake: This is an extremely talented, big offense that will challenge Phil Bennett's defense.
Michigan State 2014 Team Stats and Rankings
|3rd Down Conv. %||9||2||0.483||Georgia Tech||0.570||Ohio St.||0.515|
|3rd Down Defense||8||4||0.305||Wisconsin||0.281||Wisconsin||0.281|
|4th Down Conv. %||38||5||0.571||Georgia
|4th Down Defense||50||8||0.500||Arkansas
|Blocked Kicks||66||10||1||6 teams tied||6||Northwestern
|Blocked Kicks Allowed||1||1||0||30 teams tied||0||Wisconsin
|Blocked Punts Allowed||1||1||0||82 teams tied||0||7 teams tied||0|
|Completion Percentage||56||4||0.592||UCLA||0.696||Ohio St.||0.643|
|Defensive TDs||27||3||3||Washington||7||Ohio St.||5|
|Fewest Penalty Yards||75||13||679||Navy||322||Iowa||347|
|Fewest Penalty YPG||82||13||56.58||Navy||24.77||Iowa||28.92|
|First Downs Defense||2||1||174||Clemson||168||Michigan St.||174|
|First Downs Offense||31||2||292||Marshall
|Fumbles Lost||20||1||6||Boston College
|Kickoff Return Defense||105||11||22.82||UConn||15.49||Iowa||16.29|
|Kickoff Returns||13||1||24.06||UAB||28.15||Michigan St.||24.06|
|Net Punting||98||6||35.51||Idaho||43.45||Ohio St.||41.31|
|Passes Intercepted||11||2||17||Louisiana Tech||26||Ohio St.||21|
|Passing Offense||38||1||261.6||Washington St.||477.7||Michigan St.||261.6|
|Passing Yards Allowed||24||6||196.0||San Jose St.||117.8||Wisconsin||164.3|
|Passing Yds/Cplt||8||3||14.81||Georgia Tech||17.75||Minnesota||15.02|
|Punt Return Defense||106||10||10.82||TCU||-1.00||Penn St.||4.48|
|Red Zone Defense||86||9||0.852||Mississippi St.||0.600||Northwestern||0.771|
|Red Zone Offense||37||6||0.869||North Texas||0.943||Maryland||0.909|
|Rushing Defense||4||1||97.5||Alabama||88.7||Michigan St.||97.5|
|Sacks Allowed||3||1||0.83||Oklahoma||0.67||Michigan St.||0.83|
|Scoring Defense||14||2||19.9||Ole Miss||13.8||Penn St.||18.6|
|Scoring Offense||7||2||43.1||Baylor||48.8||Ohio St.||45.2|
|Tackles for Loss Allowed||6||1||4.17||Duke||3.15||Michigan St.||4.17|
|Team Passing Efficiency||18||2||151.08||Oregon||185.34||Ohio St.||172.36|
|Team Passing Defense||3||2||102.93||LSU||98.70||Penn St.||101.14|
|Team Sacks||10||1||3.08||Utah||4.23||Michigan St.||3.08|
|Team Tackles for Loss||54||8||6.1||Clemson||10.2||Ohio St.||7.7|
|Time of Possession||1||1||35:14||Michigan St.||35:14||Michigan St.||35:14|
|Total Defense||6||3||293.5||Clemson||259.6||Penn St.||278.7|
|Total Offense||12||2||496.5||Baylor||581.3||Ohio St.||507.6|
|Turnover Margin||1||1||1.67||Michigan St.||1.67||Michigan St.||1.67|
|Turnovers Gained||3||1||33||Louisiana Tech||42||Michigan St.||33|
|Turnovers Lost||10||1||13||Oregon||8||Michigan St.||13|
|Winning Percentage||9||2||0.833||Florida St.||1.000||Ohio St.||0.923|
It's Question Time!
- FIRST: What questions about the Michigan State Spartans do you have for us? The Spartans SB Nation Blog is looking for a new manager, but we'll find someone who knows the answers to your questions.
- SECOND: Agree/Disagree: Michigan State is the best possible opponent for Baylor to make a statement that they belonged in the College Football Playoff over Ohio State. Give your why.
- THIRD: With Kendal Briles officially named the Offensive Coordinator and calling the plays, what do you hope see from him from the Cotton Bowl?
- FOURTH: What was the best Baylor-themed gift you gave/received/observed during your Christmas holiday?
- FIFTH: If Bryce Petty is to be believed, the Bears are wearing their Chrome helmets for the Cotton Bowl. Give us your prediction for the remainder of the uniform.
- SIXTH: Just how turnt are you for the Cotton Bowl, after what seems like an eternity since the Bears defeated K-State on December 6th? Show me your favorite turnt gifs. Or your second favorite turnt gif. Or another gif. Show me gifs.