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Top 20 defenses to meet in Tempe, Arizona

TCU and Michigan State will battle with top-ranked defenses when they face off in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

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Photo by Rebecca Philp.

Photo by Rebecca Philp.

TCU and Michigan State will battle with top-ranked defenses when they face off in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

The Spartans finished the regular season No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 4 nationally in total defense, giving up 273.25 yards per game. The Frogs held opponents to 332 yards per game, which ranked No. 18 nationally and No. 1 in the Big 12. 

Michigan State gave up 16.3 points per game, No. 10 in the nation. TCU ranked 34th with 23.1 points allowed per game.  

TCU (7-5) has not played a Big Ten team since the Rose Bowl in 2011.

“We're going to have to physically get ready for this ballgame,” head coach Gary Patterson said. “Both [Wisconsin in 2011 and Michigan State] are very powerful. Both can come right at you."

Michigan State finished the season 6-6, but five losses were by four points or less. The Spartans worst loss was 20-3 at the hands of a Notre Dame team that will play for a national title. They beat two top-25 teams this season: No. 19 Boise State 17-13 and then-No. 25 Wisconsin 16-13 in overtime.

MSU head coach Mark Dantonio attributed “great leadership” to the Spartan’s ability to bounce back after losses.

“We’ve responded and regathered ourselves and came back the next week,” Dantonio said. “I think that shows. We’ve gone to Wisconsin and won in a tough environment. We play well. We have to be able to make the play.”

Michigan State has one of the nation’s top running backs in Le’Veon Bell. Bell ranked No. 3 in the nation with 137 yards per game.

Patterson said having a month of preparation makes it hard to predict what will happen in the game. He referenced the 2011 Rose Bowl where TCU beat Wisconsin 21-19 after having over a month of preparation.

“You’ve got to be careful what you wish for,” Patterson said.

The Frogs will return to familiar territory when in Tempe, Ariz. They played in Glendale, Ariz. for the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.

"We're very excited about getting back to Phoenix-Scottsdale area," Patterson said. "That's something we wanted to do again.”

TCU played Michigan State in 1953 and lost 26-19. Under Patterson, the Frogs have a 3-0 record against Big Ten teams.

 

 

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