College Football
Preview
Washington State vs Michigan State
When: 9:00 PM ET, Thursday, December 28, 2017
Where: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, California



SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION HOLIDAY BOWL STORYLINES

1. No. 19 Michigan State takes on No. 21 Washington State in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 28 in a game that matches one of the nation's top defenses against one of its top offenses. The Spartans are ninth in the country in total offensive yards allowed per game with 298 - including just 101.3 on the ground, which ranks fifth in the nation. Meanwhile, Washington State is second in the country in passing yards per contest with 392.3 behind quarterback Luke Falk's 3,593 yards and 30 touchdowns.

2. Despite going to a bowl game in 10 of the last 11 campaigns and making an appearance in the national semifinals just two seasons ago, Michigan State and coach Mark Dantonio still feel a bit slighted nationally, so when unranked Michigan - the school's biggest rival which lost to the Spartans this year - was selected for a New Year's Day bowl rather than MSU, it didn't sit well. Dantonio got into a bit of a Twitter war with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh about the perceived snub, and many of the Michigan State players made their unhappiness known as well. But the best way for the team to prove it belonged in a different game than the Holiday Bowl is to play great against the Cougars - which will be some extra motivation for the young Spartans, who are looking to build on a four-game winning streak in bowl games.

3. Washington State's passing game has been prolific this season, but the team will be without two of its top three receivers after Tavares Martin Jr., who led the club in catches, was dismissed from the team and Isaiah Johnson-Mack left the program. Martin had 70 receptions for 831 yards and nine touchdowns this season, while Johnson-Mack recorded 60 for 555 yards and five scores. That doesn’t mean the team won’t continue to go to the air, especially with seven players remaining that have caught 24 or more passes this season - including running back Jamal Morrow (56 catches, 479 yards, five TDs) and wide receiver Kyle Sweet (50, 481, two).

TV: 9 p.m. ET, FS1. LINE: Washington State -2.5

ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12): While the Cougars are known for their offense – and any team coached by Mike Leach likely is going to be – the team’s success also is based on its defense as it ranked second in the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing 313.6 yards per game. Junior defensive end Hercules Mata’afa has been named a consensus All-American after leading the conference in tackles for loss (21.5) and sacks (9.5) this season, and the Cougars were No. 1 in the Pac-12 in pass defense, allowing an average of 167.4 yards and just eight scores this season. The Cougars also topped the conference in first downs allowed per game (15.7) and opponents’ third-down conversions (24.8 percent), proof that the team is more than just a high-powered passing machine.

ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (9-3, 7-2 Big Ten): The Spartans have been up and down offensively this season in that they go from being a run-heavy squad to a pass-happy bunch and back again seemingly from game to game, which is hard on the team’s consistency but tougher for defenses to read. Quarterback Brian Lewerke has registered 2,580 passing yards and 17 touchdowns this season, though he had 845 of those yards and six of the scoring passes over a two-game span bridging October and November. Likewise, leading rusher LJ Scott has a season total of 788 yards with six scores, but 341 and three were in two contests, and the junior finished with fewer than 40 yards rushing in four games this season.



PREDICTION: Washington State 31, Michigan State 24
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W‑L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Washington State 9-3 L1 31.4 24.4 7-0 2-3 0-1 0-0 6-3
Michigan State 9-3 W2 23.1 20.2 6-1 3-2 6-2 0-0 7-2
Last Meeting
Washington State Michigan State
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No previous meeting.
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Washington State N/A
Michigan State N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Washington State N/A
Michigan State N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Washington State N/A
Michigan State N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
Washington State N/A
Michigan State N/A
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Washington State L. Falk 66.9 3593 30 13
Michigan State B. Lewerke 58.8 2580 17 6
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Washington State J. Morrow 86 522 6.1 4
Michigan State L. Scott 182 785 4.3 6
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Washington State R. Bell 36 525 14.6 3
Michigan State F. Davis III 51 658 12.9 8
Touchdowns Player TD
Washington State J. Morrow 9
Michigan State F. Davis III 8
Quickchart Matchup
Washington State Washington State Off vs  Michigan State Michigan State Def
Washington State 445.8 yards
Michigan State 297.4 yards
Washington State 2.9 yards/rush
Michigan State 3.4 yards/rush
Washington State 6.8 yards/attempt
Michigan State 6.3 yards/attempt
Michigan State Michigan State Off vs  Washington State Washington State Def
Michigan State 378.3 yards
Washington State 313.9 yards
Michigan State 3.9 yards/rush
Washington State 4.2 yards/rush
Michigan State 6.4 yards/attempt
Washington State 6.1 yards/attempt