Fans of smash-mouth football will love the Rose Bowl this year as Michigan State and Stanford both subscribe to that methodology. Pounding the rock and playing stout defense is the calling card for both teams so I’m expecting plenty of big hits at the line of scrimmage and whomever can win in the trenches will come out on top. The Rose Bowl Point Spread at CarbonSports shows the Stanford Cardinal -4.5 point favorites against the Michigan State Spartans with the Total set at 43 points.
Stanford comes in as the defending Rose Bowl champs after beating Wisconsin 20-14 a season ago in another physical game. That win made it three in a row over the Big 10 for the Pac-12 and coincidentally all three of those wins came against Wisconsin. But if you go back further you’ll see that the Big 10 has only one Rose Bowl win to their credit since 2000 (didn’t play in two of them that were designated National title games) and it came via Ohio State in 2010. Michigan State was never a part of that dry spell as they haven’t been to Pasadena since 1988 when they beat USC 20-17.
In a situation like that when you’ve got the defending champs against a team that’s hungry and excited to be on the big stage again, it’s impossible not to consider Stanford having a bit of a letdown. The “been there, done that” mentality is something college kids have a hard time ignoring and that could pose some problems for the Cardinal. They did manage to finish the season strong with three impressive wins, but after being in the title picture for the majority of the season, going back to the Rose Bowl feels a bit like a crappy consolation prize for this program.
On the other side, Michigan State finished the year with nine straight wins – capped off with their impressive win over Ohio State in the Big 10 title game – and got their offense rolling in the process.
During the early part of the season the Spartans lived off their defense as they tried to find their footing offensively and it took some time. But with 29+ in five of their last six games they found something that works and will likely make a few more big plays on Stanford than the Cardinal expect. Remember, Stanford’s two losses this season came against teams that are very physical on defense (USC and Utah), and Michigan State fits that mold to a tee.
Stanford may have the defacto home-field given it’s in California, but I was impressed with Michigan State more and more down the stretch and the motivational angle is on their side. The Spartans are 2-0 SU and ATS the last two years in their Bowl games and both times they came in as small underdogs. I think we’ve got a great chance at seeing a similar result this time around.
Rose Bowl Point Spread: Stanford (-4.5) vs. Michigan State (+4.5)
Take Michigan State + The Points