Michigan State vs Wake Forest
When: 3:20 PM ET, Friday, December 27, 2019
Where: Yankee Stadium, New York, New York
Preview for Digital Sports Desk by Gracenote
NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL STORYLINES
- Michigan State was expecting a better season than 6-6, which it needed to win its last two games to achieve, and because of that, coach Mark Dantonio’s job status has been talked about over the last few weeks. Dantonio, who becamse the school’s all-time wins leader this season, has been with Michigan State since 2007, going 113-57, but the last four seasons have seen the Spartans finish with a cumulative 26-24 record, with only one bowl victory. Last season’s 7-6 loss to Oregon in the Redbox Bowl was a sad finish to a 7-6 campaign, and another ugly setback in this game could end up being Dantonio’s last with the Spartans.
- Wake Forest is going for a fourth bowl victory in four seasons and a ninth win on the season for the first time since the 2007 campaign and only the third time in school history. The Demon Deacons are trying to right the ship after dropping three of their last four games following a 7-1 start to the season. Wake Forest will try to do that running a high-tempo offense that ranks 12th in the country with 473.4 yards per game while playing in temperatures in the 30s and rain, according to early forecasts for Yankee Stadium on the day of the game.
- The Spartans rank 15th in the country in run defense, led by senior linebacker Kenny Willekes, holding teams to 108.6 yards per game, but they have trouble against the pass. Michigan State allowed 21 touchdowns through the air this season and 210.6 passing yards per game, which could be trouble against a Wake Forest squad that led the ACC with 297.8 passing yards per game. Demon Deacons quarterback Jamie Newman is questionable for the bowl game with a leg injury, but if the junior can play, he’ll try to add onto his 23 touchdowns passing this season.
TV: 3:20 p.m. ET, Dec. 27, ESPN. LINE: Michigan State -4.5
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (6-6): The Spartans have had a lot of trouble scoring this season, especially in the second half of the campaign, averaging 15.3 points over their final seven games. Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke has been hot and cold thoughout the season, and Michigan State has really struggled near the goal line, converting just over half of their red-zone trips into touchdowns while kicker Matt Coghlin has missed nine field-goal attempts this season. Much like last season’s bowl game, when the Spartans defense held Justin Herbert and the Oregon offense to just seven points but lost 7-6, the Michigan State offense hasn’t been able to hold up its end of the bargain more often than not.
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (8-4): Wake Forest needs to put things back together after its last four games saw the Demon Deacons give up 38.5 points per game in going 1-3 after they were allowing just 25.5 points per game through their first eight contests. If Newman isn’t able to play in this one, the Wake Forest defense will need to keep the game close, which means putting pressure on Lewerke and stopping the Michigan State running game. Junior defensive lineman Carlos Basham Jr. will be a key after leading the Demon Deacons with 10 sacks and 17 tackles for loss this season.
PREDICTION: Michigan State 24, Wake Forest 20