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College Football
Preview
Michigan State vs Baylor
When: 12:30 PM ET, Thursday, January 1, 2015
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL CLASSIC STORYLINES

1. Michigan State exited the inaugural College Football Playoff race after losing to Ohio State on Nov. 8, so that reality has long since worn off as the No. 7 Spartans prepare to face No. 5 Baylor in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day in Arlington, Texas. The one-loss Bears, who are the nation's top-scoring team at 48.8 points and face the country's No. 12 defense in points allowed (19.9), felt like they were snubbed after they couldn't crack the top four and gain a CFP berth despite sharing the Big 12 title with equally disappointed TCU. Baylor is led by senior quarterback Bryce Petty, who finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy voting.
2. Petty couldn't duplicate his eye-popping junior season, when he threw for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns against three interceptions, but 3,305 yards, 26 TDs and six interceptions qualifies as a big year for most. The 6-3, 230-pound Texan, who has throw a touchdown pass in a school-record 24 straight games, had to overcome a back injury which sidelined him for a game and a half, while also dealing with becoming a marked man. "People don’t hit me like they did last year,” Petty told ESPN.com. “As soon as I get hit, they’re driving me to the ground and talking the whole time.”
3. Baylor will be without longtime offensive coordinator Phillip Montgomery, who was named coach at Tulsa last week. Passing game coordinator Kendal Briles - coach Art Briles' son - is expected to call the plays but Montgomery, who mentored Petty along with 2011 Heisman Trophy Robert Griffin III, will be missed. "My duty to our football team and Baylor University is that any time that we have change, that it's my job to make sure that we never take a step backward,'' Briles said in a statement after losing Montgomery, who has coached under Briles in various capacities and levels for 17 years - the last seven as Bears offensive coordinator.
TV: 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Baylor -3
ABOUT MICHIGAN STATE (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten): The Spartans are No. 7 in the nation at 43.1 points and are led by senior running back Jeremy Langford (1,360 yards, 19 touchdowns). Junior quarterback Connor Cook passed for 2,900 yards and 22 touchdowns against six interceptions with senior wide receiver Tony Lippett his top target (18.7 yards per 60 receptions, 11 TDs). Senior safety Kurtis Drummond, a second-team All-America selection, leads the team in solo tackles (47), tackles (65) and interceptions (four) while aptly named Marcus Rush, a senior defensive end, has recorded a team-high seven sacks.
ABOUT BAYLOR (11-1, 8-1 Big 12): While Petty is the unquestionable leader of the Bears' offense, his supporting cast includes sophomore running back Shock Linwood (1,226 yards, 16 touchdowns). Sophomore wide receiver Corey Coleman (17 yards per 57 receptions, 10 TD catches) is Petty's No. 1 target, but freshman KD Cannon (16.7, 50, six), senior Antwan Godley (14.5, 51, six) and junior Jay Lee (15.3, 39, five) also had productive seasons. Senior linebacker Bryce Hager (101 tackles, 70 solo) leads the defense while Sean Oakman, a 6-9, 280-pound junior defensive end, has 10 sacks.
PREDICTION: Michigan State 38, Baylor 31
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk PF PA Home Away Grass Turf Conf
Michigan State 10-2 W3 43.1 19.9 6-1 4-1 9-1 0-0 7-1
Baylor 11-1 W5 48.8 24.2 6-0 5-1 8-0 0-0 8-1
Last Meeting
Michigan State Baylor
Date Away Home Tot Rus Pas Tot Rus Pas
No previous meeting.
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Michigan State N/A
Baylor N/A
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Michigan State N/A
Baylor N/A
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Michigan State N/A
Baylor N/A
Touchdowns Player TD
Michigan State N/A
Baylor N/A
Season
Passing Player COMP % YDS TD INT
Michigan State C. Cook 58.2 2900 22 6
Baylor B. Petty 62.1 3305 26 6
Rushing Player CAR YDS AVG TD
Michigan State J. Langford 249 1360 5.5 19
Baylor S. Linwood 240 1226 5.1 16
Receiving Player REC YDS AVG TD
Michigan State T. Lippett 60 1124 18.7 11
Baylor C. Coleman 57 969 17.0 10
Touchdowns Player TD
Michigan State J. Langford 19
Baylor S. Linwood 16
Quickchart Matchup
Michigan State Off vs  Baylor Def
496.5 yards
367.7 yards
5.1 yards/rush
2.9 yards/rush
8.8 yards/attempt
7.5 yards/attempt
Baylor Off vs  Michigan State Def
581.3 yards
293.5 yards
4.7 yards/rush
3.4 yards/rush
8.9 yards/attempt
6 yards/attempt