Tom Dienhart, Senior Writer, December 7, 2014

Michigan State is in the Cotton Bowl, and the Spartans landed a plum spot here vs. Baylor, which won the Big 12 and had a great case to be included in the playoff.


Alas, the Bears finished No. 5 in the final College Football Poll. Each of these clubs has a terrific offense led by QBs Connor Cook and Bryce Petty.

The Spartans are No. 2 in the Big Ten in scoring (43.1 ppg) and total offense (496.5 ypg). Baylor is No. 1 in the nation in scoring (48.8 ppg) and total offense (581.3 ypg).

Which defense can step up? You?d have to give an edge to the Spartans, who have a rep for stout units under coordinator Pat Narduzzi. This year?s ?Spartan Dawg? defense isn?t on the same level as last year?s Rose Bowl group. But, it?s still stout, ranking No. 3 in the Big Ten overall (293.5 ypg) and No. 2 in scoring (19.9 ppg) with players like Kurtis Drummond, Trae Waynes, Taiwan Jones, Shilique Calhoun and Ed Davis.

MSU has the defensive speed to perhaps contain to a degree Baylor's wide-open spread attack that stretches teams horizontally and vertically. Getting pressure on Petty will be key for the Spartans.

MSU and Baylor have played once, with the Spartans winning 28-10 in East Lansing in 1968.