Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl preview: Kansas State vs. Michigan
Kansas State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) vs. Michigan (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten)
December 28, 10:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Kansas State Players to Watch:
Ryan Mueller, DE—A former walk-on, Mueller enjoys long walks on the beach and blowing up plays before they have the chance to develop. The junior has 11.5 sacks (18.5 TFL) and expects those numbers to increase come game day.
John Hubert, RB—Hubert hasn’t found the type of success he did in 2012, but his performance in the BW3’s Bowl will be pivotal for Kansas State’s chances.
Michigan Players to Watch:
Jeremy Gallon, WR—An electric playmaker and best when lined up inside the hashes, Gallon is hands down the favorite target in the passing game (80 receptions, 1,284 yards, nine touchdowns) and can change momentum in the blink of an eye.
Shane Morris, QB—All signs are pointing to Devin Gardner out for the bowl game with his lingering turf toe injury. If so, the Wolverines will be counting on freshman signal caller Shane Morris to get it done.
Kansas State Key to Victory:
Put pressure in the backfield. Between the three-headed monster of Ryan Mueller and linebackers Blake Slaughter and Jonathan Truman, Kansas State has quite the pass rush. This is a great matchup for the Wildcats, who are up against a Michigan offensive line that has struggled all season long to protect the quarterback (No. 108 in the country).
Michigan Key to Victory:
Run the ball effectively. It’s no secret that Michigan hasn’t been able to do this on a consistent basis—especially toward the latter of the season—entering with just 130.8 rushing yards per game (No. 101 overall). The Wolverines’ top three rushers average 3.5 yards per carry or less and they’re 2-5 when combining for 152 yards or less. Facing an excellent Kansas State run defense doesn’t help the cause, but it’s vital for U-of-M to get something going on the ground with a freshman quarterback—who’s thrown nine career passes—under center.
Line: Kansas State (-4.5)
Prediction: Even if Devin Gardner plays—which is highly doubtful at this point—it’s unlikely that he’ll have his normal ability to move around in the pocket. That spells trouble for this incredibly shaky offensive line, which would have a very difficult time protecting anything that can move at this point—freshman QBs included.
Kansas State 31, Michigan 17
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