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Cotton Bowl Classic 2014: Baylor vs. Michigan State Preview

When: Jan. 1, 12:30pm EST
Where: Arlington, TX; AT&T Stadium
TV: ESPN
Spread: Baylor -3 (via VegasInsider.com)
All-Time Series: Michigan State leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Michigan State W, 28-10 (1968)

Gift Bag: no information disclosed by bowl committee (courtesy sportsbusinessdaily.com)

Statistical Breakdown:

Offense:

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Defense:

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Preview:

This is the one game the Big Ten needs, no question about it. Michigan State has come within two halves of a perfect football season and since the meeting with Ohio State it has been waiting for another true opportunity to prove itself. Sitting across from the Baylor Bears on New Years Day in Arlington, Texas is that opportunity.

Last season the Spartans saved a horrendous Big Ten bowl season from being completely worthless by winning the Rose Bowl. This season it could find itself in a similar position based off of what Las Vegas is telling us all.

On the field though, this game promises to be one of the most intriguing bowl games on the national scene. You’ve got Michigan State’s stout defense versus Baylor’s high-powered offense and Michigan State’s underrated offense against one of the nation’s worst passing defenses.

Michigan State having Connor Cook at quarterback and Big Ten Wide Receiver of the Year Tony Lippett to go against that No. 104-ranked Baylor pass defense. Lippett is the only Big Ten wide receiver to average over 90 yards receiving per game and was one of just two Big Ten players over 1,000 yards receiving as well.

The most interesting part of this game is going to be what Michigan State does up front. While Baylor has had trouble against the pass, they really have been stout against the run. However, the Bears are likely to see the best offensive line they’ve faced all season long in the Cotton Bowl, led by a great center in Jack Allen. If the Spartans can control the line of scrimmage and somehow get Jeremy Langford going on a consistent basis it could be blowout city for the Spartans.

On the other hand, Baylor will counter with its own stellar quarterback, Bryce Petty, who has completed over 62.1 percent of his passes and is facing a Michigan State defense that has given up 46 points to Oregon and 49 points to Ohio State. Those are the two fast paced and high-powered offenses MSU has faced this year, and both were losses.

Something will have to give, and if we were betting men it would be Baylor’s defense giving in to the power of MSU’s offense and MSU’s defensive line having its way with the Bears offensive line. That should equal another successful New Year’s Day bowl game for the Spartans.

Staff Predictions:

Andy: Michigan State 45, Baylor 24
Dave: Michigan State 45, Baylor 35
Zach: Michigan State 34, Baylor 33

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

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