It’s been almost a month (Dec 1 to be exact) since the TCU Horned Frogs last took to the football field to play a game. For the Michigan State Spartans, it’s been longer. They haven’t played a game since November 24th. Fortunately for both teams, the wait is almost over.
The 7-5 TCU Horned Frogs take on the 6-6 Michigan State Spartans in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Saturday, December 29th at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. For both teams, it’s a bowl game that neither of them was eyeing at the beginning of the season. Each team had high expectations coming into the season. TCU in its first season in the Big 12 was expected to compete for top spot in the conference. Likewise for Michigan State, who had a lot of players coming back and was the favorite to make it to the Big Ten championship game. So often as it happens though, teams fail to live up to the expectations laid upon them by the experts. Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs and Spartans, they did not live up to those expectations.
For both teams, this is a chance to end their season on a good note and build momentum heading into next season. TCU has dealt with a lot in their first year in the Big 12. They’ve lost several key players to injury, starting quarterback Casey Pachall left the team to check into a substance abuse program after his DUI arrest; his departure left redshirt freshman Trevone Boykinas the team’s starting quarterback, and they’ve had to deal with playing against teams they aren’t used to with this being their first year in the Big 12. This has definitely been a trying year at times.
For TCU to win the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, they are going to have to stop Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell, who is one of the top running backs in the country. The workhorse has rushed for 1,648 yards and eleven touchdowns on 350 carries this year. The Spartans offense goes as far as Bell takes them. If TCU can contain Bell, they have a very good chance at winning this game.
Of course, TCU’s offense has to be able to gain some balance. Too many times this season, they have not been able to find success running the football, putting more pressure on their young quarterback Boykin to lead them to victory. They have been turnover prone this year too and against a defense like the Spartans, you can’t give them good field position.
TCU averaged nine points more per game than Michigan State, but gave up almost a touchdown more. We’re either going to see a fairly high scoring game or a game in which the first team that gets to twenty points win. We might not even see that many points scored. This should be a pretty entertaining contest.
In the end, I’ll take TCU to edge Michigan State 23-17 and win the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Boykin will have a good game and TCU fans can be excited for next year with Boykin having the offseason to learn and get better and for the entire program to build off of this last year and help lead TCU to a Big 12 title next year.