Goodyear Cotton Bowl
#8 Michigan State (10-2) at #5 Baylor (11-1)
January 1, 2015. 12:30 ET.
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Weather: doesn't matter, indoors
Line: Baylor -2.5
Sagarin Ratings: MSU #9, Baylor #10
Check it out: Cotton Bowl Pinterest site
Interesting Fact: This year's matchup is the first top-10 battle in the Cotton Bowl since 1994 (#4 ND vs #7 Texas A&M).
|Morgan Freeman loves the Cotton Bowl|
SportsRatings (a very good, statistical analysis). MSU 38-35
Dallas Morning News: Baylor 48-38
Free Press (Rexrode): Baylor 41-38
Athlon Sports: MSU 31-28
CBS Sports: 3 pick MSU, 3 pick Baylor (vs spread)
SI.com: Baylor 41-38
Rant Sports: MSU 27-24
International Business Times: MSU (vs spread)
WSBT TV-22 (South Bend): MSU 38-31
NJ.com: (Duggan) Baylor 41-30; (Sargeant) MSU 41-38
CFN/Scout: MSU 48-40
Bet Firm: Baylor
FanSpeak: Baylor 45-30
Joe (Peanut Barrel): MSU 48-42
Stat breakdown (advantage in bold):
MSU rush off (234 ypg, #22) vs Baylor rush def (108 ypg, #8)
MSU pass off (262 ypg, #39) vs Baylor pass def (260 ypg, #104)
MSU total off (497 ypg, #12) vs Baylor total def (367 ypg, #40)
Baylor rush off (235 ypg, #21) vs MSU rush def (97 ypg, #3)
Baylor pass off (346 ypg, #5) vs MSU pass def (196 ypg, #24)
Baylor total off (581 ypg, #1) vs MSU total def (293 ypg, #5)
Turnover margin: MSU (+20, #1) vs Baylor (+12, #7)
Third down conversion offense: MSU (48.3%, #10) vs Baylor (47.5%, #15)
Third down conversion defense: MSU (30.5%, #7) vs Baylor (35.9%, #28)
Time of possession: MSU (35 mpg, #1) vs Baylor (29 mpg, #73)
Lots of offense out of both teams. Expect enough rush defense - and enough of a pass rush - out of the Michigan State Spartans at a few critical times to mess up the timing of the high-flying, fast paced Baylor offense. MSU will give up big plays on defense, but should also make a few big plays on defense... enough to eek out a win.
Actually, the key of the game is more likely the ability of the MSU offense to control the ball enough to keep Baylor's offense off the field. Michigan State has the tools to get it done - if it can execute, particularly on third downs. While the Spartans lead the nation in time of possession, the ES considers the adage: "it's not how long you have the ball, but what you do with the ball when you have it." MSU just was not effective enough on offense to stall #2 Oregon or #4 Ohio State because the defense did not do its part - particularly late in the game... But with a month to prepare, expect coach Mark Dantonio and defensive guru Pat Narduzzi to be ready. Expect a trick play or three - we haven't seen as much of it this year out of the Spartans.
History is on the Spartans' side... and as the course of the season has progressed, the Spartans have been able to improve their margin of victory at a greater pace than Baylor - and, this is against better competition in the B1G Ten than in the Big 12.
It is very difficult to see each team scoring less than 35 points in this game. MSU has a better overall defense.... and we know defense wins championships.
Final Score: Michigan State 49, Baylor 38.