Saturday, December 28, 2013

B1G is off to 0-1 start, so can Michigan break the tide vs. K-State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl tonight?

December 28, 2013
Minnesota falls 21-17 to Syracuse in Texas Bowl - Recap

Next up for Big Ten: Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-5) 
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Tempe, Arizona
9:15 p.m. kickoff on ESPN (HD)
Big Ten Preview on game

Tempe, AZ -- The Big Ten Conference is off to a 0-1 start, with Minnesota's 21-17 loss to Syracuse. Some may say 0-3, since both Maryland and Rutgers also fell, and they will both join the Big Ten in 2014.

This is the first game ever between the Michigan Wolverines (Big Ten) and the Kansas State Wildcats (Big 12). It will come in the 25th annual Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

MichiganMichigan coach Brady Hoke (1-1 in bowls at Michigan) is in his third season in Ann Arbor, as a head coach. The Wolverines finished with a disappointing 3-5 Big Ten record, including four losses in their final five B1G games. The Wolverines are 20-22 in bowl games, with a 23-20 overtime in the 2012 Sugar Bowl over Virginia Tech, but last year lost 33-28 to South Carolina late in the Outback Bowl.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has coached 22 years in Manhattan. He is a former Iowa offensive coordinator, so faced the Michigan Wolverines from 1979 to 1988, when Iowa-Michigan played, so Snyder is very familiar with the Wolverines tradition in the Big Ten. The Wildcats finished 5-4 this season in the Big 12, winning five of their final six conference games. Kansas State is 6-10 in bowl games, with five straight losses, including a 35-17 loss to Oregon in last year's Fiesta Bowl.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, in his
22nd season, as head coach.

Kansas State - Michigan preview from the Kansas City Star
Prediction by the Star: Kansas State 28-21 fueled by the Wildcats seeking to end five game bowl losing streak.

Kansas State is favored by five points in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Michigan Pedigree from the official bowl site:
"The blue-blood Wolverines are competing their 134th season of college football. They boast 910 all-time wins, the most of any institution at any level of college football."

At one time, Kansas State before the arrival of coach Bill Snyder in 1989, the Wildcats were one of the lowest, most unsuccessful major college football programs. In the last twenty years, the Wildcats have played in 15 bowl games.

Michigan freshman
QB Shane Morris
(5-9 for 65 yards)
will start in bowl game.
Michigan will start a true freshman at quarterback for the bowl game, after junior Devin Gardner was injured during the 42-41 loss to Ohio State in the final Big Ten game. Shane Morris is a 6-3, 201 pound player, who was highly regarded out of high school, will get his first start. Gardner played through the injury in the loss to Ohio State.

 "I think he's had some great preparation. Obviously we were trying to figure out if Devin was going to be able to go," said coach Hoke. "Snap-wise Shane has taken a lot of the snaps between him and Russell Bellomy. He's done a tremendous job. I know his teammates have supported him. So we're excited about that."

Kansas State QB
Jake Waters as
a prep at Council Bluffs
St. Albert lead his
high school to two Iowa 1A State Titles,
Kansas State is lead by JUCO transfer Jake Waters, a 6-1 210 pound junior, who played at Iowa Western Community Council in 2012. Last year, Waters led his junior college to the national title. The Council Bluffs native lead his high school team to two state titles, as well.

Michigan has been in a lot of close games in 2013, after beginning the season with five straight wins, before the four overtime loss at Penn State. Hoke said, "No question, this football team is 11 points away from being 11-1. We haven't finished games and executed the way we needed to at the end of the games. If you look at Kansas State, they've been a dominant fourth-quarter team the last six football games. That's something that we've talked about. Our players understand that we need to do a better job of finishing football games. Also educating them about the success that Kansas State has had in the fourth quarter. They've scored 72 points and given up 31 in those last six games."

Since arriving in Ann Arbor for the 2011 season, Michigan has been transitioning from the spread attack of former coach, and present Arizona coach Rich Rodriquez, to a pro-set offense. The 2013 season was projected by many as a break-out season, but it was Michigan State, rather than Michigan, who broke out in the Big Ten.

Michigan has had trouble establishing a quality, consistent running game. In 2013, the offensive line has been struggling in many games. A running game could take some pressure off Morris in his first start. Senior Fitz Toussaint only averaged 3.5 yards per carry in 2013. Is Hoke turning to youngsters, when he said, "De'Veon (Smith), Derrick (Green), then Fitz (Toussaint). There's a good place in there for him also."

But, Hoke may look to pass in the bowl game, as he goes on to talk about Morris by saying, "number one, he's very athletic. He's a guy that can move around well in the pocket, can move up in the pocket. He's a guy who has a very strong arm. He can make all the throws. Obviously we recruited him at Michigan to be the quarterback at Michigan. This is a great opportunity. We have a lot of faith in how he goes about his business getting ready to play."

How will the offense and defense respond in the final game for the Michigan seniors? At the beginning of the season coach Hoke spoke a lot about the importance of seniors and leadership. He said this about winning the Buffalo Wild Wings game for the senior class, "it would be huge. It would be awesome. You want to win every game. Obviously that didn't happen. You want to be successful, do all these things. Going out with a win would feel phenomenal."

On the importance of finishing games in the fourth quarter, Hoke said ... "It's huge. This is a team that plays extremely well in the fourth quarter, Kansas State. We've done a good job throughout the year of getting consistently better. But we've fallen short a couple times."

On how big it would be to pick up a win, Hoke said ... "It's very important. It's not everything in the world. Obviously, you want to go out with a win. It's not detrimental to your program. But it's great for the seniors and putting the next team in position."

Kansas State QB Jake Waters running for daylight in 2013.
On the Kansas State quarterbacks' styles presenting a challenge Hoke said... "It does. It does. (Jake) Waters is a guy who probably gets short-selled a little bit on the athlete that he is. He's a good athlete who can run with the football also. But he's a guy they seem to be more comfortable with throwing the football. And (Daniel) Sams is a guy who is very athletic. He's like a tailback in there and will throw the ball, but most of the time they like to run it with him."

On Kansas State junior receiver Tyler Lockett Hoke said... We have great respect for Tyler Lockett. He's a guy who gets behind people in a lot of cases. Runs good routes. The comebacks they like, does a nice job of that. The timing between the quarterbacks and him, you can tell there's been a lot of work in it is off-season done."

Kansas State may know what is at stake tonight in Tempe

"If I'm not mistaken, it's been about 4,018 days since the last time K-State won a bowl game - 11 years exactly from today," Kansas State senior safety Ty Zimmerman said. "I know we're all ready for that streak to end. We've got a chance to do it tomorrow, so let's get it done."

The last bowl win by Kansas State was during the 2002 season, when Kansas State defeated Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl 34-27. Ironically, the Wildcats will be playing in the Sun Devils home stadium, so will karma favor Kansas State in Arizona?

The Big Ten may be stuck in the wake with the Michigan-Kansas State game. We shall see, who closes it out in the fourth quarter. Kansas State is the favorite, based on experience under center.

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