Michigan State vs. Wake Forest: Pinstripe Bowl fearless prediction and game preview.
Michigan State vs. Wake Forest: Pinstripe Bowl Broadcast
Michigan State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (8-4) Game Preview
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Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Pinstripe Bowl
– It’s Michigan State in the Pinstripe. The Big Ten tries to make sure the teams are rotated around to the various bowls, but it doesn’t always work out. In this case, the program gets its chance to play in New York City, and it has a shot to keep it all going for the Big Ten.
Wake Forest hasn’t been in the Pinstripe, either, and now it’s carrying the ACC’s flag after the conference has gone 1-4 in the ACC-Big Ten challenge -Duke beat Indiana in an overtime thriller in 2015 – with a chance for a win the league has to have.
Okay, so it’s not the end of the world if the ACC doesn’t win a December 27th bowl game, but considered how maligned the conference has been, a win would over the Big Ten would be pumped up.
– This is just the 14th bowl game all-time for Wake Forest, but it’s the fourth straight post-season appearance under Dave Clawson after winning the first three. The program is 8-2 in bowls since 1992, but the team comes in limping after a rough finishing kick losing three of its last four games.
– A win over Wake Forest wouldn’t give Michigan State its mojo back, but after an ugly season with a whole slew of gut-punches and disappointments, getting a bowl win would be a nice finish to at least give the program something positive.
This was a miserable bowl team under Mark Dantonio – losing the first four tries – and then won four in a real and five of six, only dropping the College Football Playoff semifinal to Alabama in 2015. Last year it really, really, really couldn’t score in a 7-6 Redbox Bowl loss to Justin Herbert and Oregon, but that was just a part of a 5-8 run until finally closing out the this year with two wins over miserable Rutgers and Maryland teams.
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Why Wake Forest Will Win
– To hammer home the point, scoring it optional at Michigan State for long stretches of time. The Spartans had a few bursts here and there, but they scored fewer than 20 points in five of their last seven games. The passing attack was okay, but there wasn’t much of anything happening with the ground game on a regular basis.
Running well tied into points. In that second half power outage, the Spartans failed to run for 100 yards in those five games when the team couldn’t get to 20 points. Wake Forest doesn’t have a top run D, but it’s only been gouged three times for more than 200 yards. The Demon Deacon defensive front is just strong enough to keep MSU to around 150.
– The Demon Deacon offense suffered a blow when star receiver Sage Surratt was lost for the season, but the passing attack kept moving against everyone but Clemson. The Spartan secondary is good, but it allowed 210 yards per game. It’s about to get hit for a whole lot more than that no matter if it’s Jamie Newman – who got banged up in the loss to Syracuse – or Sam Hartman, a good veteran who had a fantastic freshman year last season before getting injured.
This was the ACC’s best passing offense, and now with time off, it should be a whole lot better – this was one banged up team as the regular season ended.
– There’s absolutely no margin for error when it comes to turnover margin for either team, but it’s more pronounced for Michigan State. Wake Forest lost the turnover battle four times, but at least it won one of them. Michigan State was 6-0 when winning the turnover margin and 0-6 when losing it, going a +9 in the six wins and -10 in the six losses. Wake Forest was 12th in the nation in takeaways.
Why Michigan State Will Win
– The Michigan State defense never quite played up to expectations, but it’s still terrific. It was a rock against the run – only Ohio State and Wisconsin went off – only Illinois and Michigan threw for over 300 yards, and now it’s a rested bunch. It’ll start with making plays behind the line with the run D dominating for stretches.
Yeah, the Wake Forest offense has been terrific and explosive through the air, and it ran wild on on Duke, but the attack mostly worked on the mediocre. The O fell flat against the two solid defenses it faced, Clemson’s and Virginia Tech’s.
– Brian Lewerke got hot late. This wasn’t the season the senior quarterback was supposed to have/hoping for, but against Rutgers and Maryland he completed over 70% of his passes with over eight yards per throw and for close to 600 total yards.
The Wake Forest secondary might pick off a ton of passes – Lewerke has to be really careful after throwing eight interceptions in the last four games – but it can also get loaded. The Demon Deacons allowed 7.5 yards per pass, and MSU is 4-0 when Lewerke averages over eight.
– Michigan State’s return game hasn’t been anything special, but this would be the chance to pop one. For an offense that always needs as much help as it can get – like field position – the miserable Wake Forest coverage teams could help. The Demon Deacons allowed three kickoff returns for scores and struggled way too much in punt coverage allowing close to 17 yards per pop.