The college football playoff is set. Alabama will play Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon faces off against Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Seeing OSU in the playoff still leaves a bad taste in my mouth because TCU or Baylor deserve, in my mind, to be there instead but that is unfortunately not the case.
Now enter the aforementioned Baylor, as MSU will face off with them in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. This choice was rather shocking because I for sure thought we would’ve played in either the Peach or Orange Bowl as I wrote last week, but there is a lot to be excited about in this matchup.
Baylor is co-Big 12 Champions and the first one out of the playoff as they finished the season ranked #5. They come in with a very explosive and high-octane offense led by senior quarterback Bryce Petty. The Bears come in with the number one ranked scoring offense in the country at just under 50 points per game and come in 5th nationally in passing yards per game with just under 350 per game. That is large in part due to Petty and the strong receiving corps headlined by sophomore Corey Coleman and freshman KD Cannon. MSU’s defense will for sure have their hands full for this game, as it will be one of their biggest tests all year.
The Spartan defense will have to pull out all the stops against the Bears offense. I think the x-factor on defense is Tony Lippett, as this will surely be his biggest test as a DB this year. The biggest question mark on defense has been the play of sophomore DB Darian Hicks in recent weeks as he has been burned by opposing receivers. However, it may help having Lippett with him because it might take a little pressure off him on such a big stage like the Cotton Bowl. If everything goes the way this Spartan fans want it to than we will be celebrating a bowl victory going into the New Year.
Putting all that aside, MSU’s offense is no slouch either as Cook and co. will be ready to play in what is most likely a home game for Baylor as it is in Arlington, TX, just an hour and a half drive from Waco. The Spartans are in familiar territory as they came in to the Rose Bowl last year as underdogs and ended with a victory. I believe they can do it yet again, but I also believe it will be more difficult this time as the Bears are out to prove a point that they should’ve been chosen for the playoff. The stage is set and in a few weeks we shall find out who will win this matchup: a high-octane offense or a stingy defense. Let's hope it's the latter. Happy finals everyone!