The 2014 bowl season continues with New Year’s Day, with action featuring an afternoon match-up (12:30 pm ET) with teams that are of similar quality to those in the inaugural College Football Playoff. The 8th ranked Michigan St. Spartans (10-2) of the Big-10 and the 5th ranked Baylor Bears (11-1) of the Big-12 Conference in the Cotton Bowl from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The Spartans closed the regular season with 3 consecutive wins after suffering their 2nd loss of the season to a CFB Playoff participant, Ohio St. in week 11, 49-37 at home. MSU’s other loss was a week two, 46-27 loss to Oregon on the road. Baylor won 5 games in a row to close the regular season, suffering their only loss at home to TCU in week seven, 61-58 in a wild shootout.
Michigan St. is ranked 7th nationally in scoring offense with an average of 43.1 points per game and 12th among FBS teams in total offense with 496.5 yards per contest. The Spartans rank 15th nationally in points allowed with 19.9 per game and 6th in total defense 293.5 YPG allowed.
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Baylor is ranked 1st nationally in scoring offense with an average of 48.8 PPG scored and 1st among FBS teams in total offense with 581.3 YPG. The Bears rank 38th nationally in points allowed with 24.2 per game and 40th in total defense 367.7 YPG allowed.
Michigan St. vs. Baylor Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Michigan St. Spartans +2.5
@ Baylor Bears -2.5
Over 70 (-110)
Under 70 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Michigan St. vs Baylor Pick
The Spartans are 13-4-1 ATS in their last 18 games against a team with a winning record, 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games but 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games against Big-12 teams. The Bears are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games against a team with a winning record, 7-1 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games and 22-8-1 ATS in their last 31 games overall. The Over is 4-1 in the Spartans’ last 5 bowl games, 5-0 in their last 5 non-conference games and 11-3 in their last 14 games overall. The Over is 6-1 in the Bears’ last 7 non-conference games, 27-10-2 in their last 39 games on fieldturf and 40-16-2 in their last 58 games overall.
Baylor is an up-tempo spread team under Head Coach Art Briles, quarterback Bryce Petty threw for 3,305 yards with 26 TDs and 6 INTs this season for the Bears. Baylor will be without the services of offensive coordinator Phillip Montgomery, who was named coach at Tulsa last week. He relies on a pair of sophomores, running back Shock Linwood 1,226 yards rushing with 16 TDs and wide receiver Corey Coleman 17 YPC on 57 receptions with 10 TD receptions to keep the chains moving in Briles’ attack.
The Spartans are led by QB Connor Cook, who has thrown for 2,900 yards and 22 TDs against 6 INTs; his top target is wide receiver Tony Lippett his top target with 18.7 YPC on 60 receptions with 11 TDs.
These two teams have polar opposite styles of play, but Michigan St. has the weapons to keep pace in a shootout and the Spartans may need them since they do not have the lights-out defense that they had a season ago when they shut down Stanford in the Rose Bowl. The Bears have a leaky secondary, ranking 104th nationally in passing yards allowed with 260 per game. The trends point to a shootout for both teams, and this game could come down to who has the ball last. Michigan St. would be a tempting pick, but they fared poorly in the second half against an Oregon team that likes to play fast and throw the ball. The better play here is the OVER.