Rose Bowl Odds
The No. 4 Michigan State Spartans (12-1) will take on the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal (11-2) in the 2014 Rose Bowl on Wednesday, January 1. This game puts the winner of the Pac-12 up against the winner of the Big Ten. This is familiar territory for the Cardinal, but a rare appearance for Spartans.
This will be the 14th Rose Bowl for Stanford and just the 5th for Michigan State. Kickoff in Pasadena, CA is scheduled for 5:00 EST Wednesday night with ESPN providing the television coverage. Oddsmakers in Las Vegas have installed Stanford as a 4.5-point favorite over Michigan State with a total set of 41 points.
Why Stanford Covers
The Cardinal are easily the best two-loss team in the country this season. Both of their losses came on the road to solid USC and Utah teams by a combined nine points. They took care of business against a brutal schedule this year. They beat the likes of Arizona State (twice), UCLA, Notre Dame and Oregon. This team certainly earned its way to the Rose Bowl.
The same probably cannot be said for Michigan State, which played a much softer schedule all season. Its only really impressive win came against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. It suffered its only loss to Notre Dame, which obviously gives these teams a common opponent who the Cardinal beat. Some of the Spartans’ lackluster performances including wins over Western Michigan (26-13) as a 27.5-point favorite, South Florida (21-6) as a 21-point favorite and Purdue (14-0) as a 28-point favorite. Those are three of the worst teams in the entire country.
Stanford certainly has the superior offense in this one. It is putting up 33.2 points and 413.9 yards per game against a brutal schedule. Michigan State has only managed 29.8 points and 384.6 yards per game against a much easier schedule. Kevin Hogan came on strong at the end of the season, finishing with 2,487 passing yards with 20 touchdowns against nine interceptions while completing 61.4 percent of his passes. However, it’s Tyler Gaffney that carried the load. The running game rushed for 1,613 yards and 20 touchdowns this season.
Plays against underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points (MICHIGAN ST) – off 2 straight wins against conference rivals against opponent off a double digit road win are 41-12 (77.4%) ATS over the last 10 seasons. The Cardinal are 9-2 against the spread when playing against a top-level team with better than a 75% winning percentage over the last two seasons. Stanford is 9-1 against the number in road games vs. good teams that outscore their opponents by 10-plus points per game over the last three seasons.
Why Michigan State Covers
The Spartans have quietly gone about their business all season while not getting any love from anyone. This team has been playing with a chip on their shoulder, and they will continue to do so in the Rose Bowl. Head coach Mark Dantonio and his entire team feel that they deserve a shot at a BCS National Championship. If not for several blown calls by the refs in a 13-17 loss at Notre Dame, they would be in the Title game. Once again, this team isn’t getting much love as a 4.5-point dog in the Rose Bowl.
When you have a defense and a running game, you have a good chance to beat anyone. Indeed, the Spartans have the best defense in the entire country. They rank 1st in scoring defense at 12.7 points per game and 1st in total defense at 247.8 yards per game. They simply do not give up an inch on this side of the football. Offensively, they average 182 rushing yards per game. Jeremy Langford has rushed for over 100 yards in eight straight games coming in. Connor Cook has thrown for 2,423 yards with 20 touchdowns against five interceptions as the offense has really taken off since he took over as the starting quarterback.
This is a very evenly-matched game on both sides of the football. Neither team has an explosive offense, relying heavily on the running game and ball control to win games. Both teams have elite defenses, but I would certainly argue that Michigan State’s is better despite playing a softer schedule this year. So, when you have a game between two teams that are mirror images of each other, it’s usually a wise move to take the points. There’s a good chance that this game will be decided by a field goal either way in the end.
So, when you have a game between two teams that are mirror images of each other, it’s usually a wise move to take the points. There’s a good chance that this game will be decided by a field goal either way in the end.
Plays against any team (STANFORD) – good offensive team (390 to 440 YPG) against an excellent defense (<=280 YPG) after seven-plus games are 76-39 (66.1%) ATS over the last 10 seasons. The Spartans are 7-0 against the spread in road games against a team with a winning record over the last two seasons. Michigan State is 6-0 against the number versus good offensive teams that score 31 or more points per game this season. The Spartans are 8-1 against the spread in road games after playing a conference game over the last two years.
My Early Lean: Michigan State +4.5