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Normally when you see the Big 12 battle the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl but it’s a different bowl contest here for that conference matchup. The Michigan State Spartans do battle with the Oregon Ducks in the Redbox Bowl on Monday, December 31. Michigan State snapped a two-game skid with an ugly 14-10 win over Rutgers at home in their regular-season finale. Oregon won their final two games on the season, beating Oregon State 55-15 in the Civil War in their regular season finale. The teams have split six previous meetings with the Spartans taking the last matchup, 31-28, at home on September 12, 2015.
Michigan State Spartans Hoping to Get Offense Going
Michigan State’s offensive struggles continued as they managed to slip past Rutgers in their regular season finale. The Spartans broke a string of two consecutive games where they scored in single digits and hit the double-digit mark for just the third time in six games. Michigan State trailed 10-7 in the fourth quarter before getting the go-ahead score with 3:57 to go. The Spartans’ defense managed to keep Rutgers out of the end zone to preserve the win but it was hardly a compelling win for a team favored by four touchdowns. Michigan State held a 310-217 edge in total offense, rang up 23 first downs while allowing 10 and held a 31:16 to 28:44 edge in time of possession. The Spartans forced three turnovers while committing two.
“Let’s go to work!” Coach Mannie with the words of advice for the game! Kickoff vs Rutgers is near! Coming up at 4 pm on @CFBONFOX! #SpartanSeniorDay #GoGreen #HEAVE #BeatRutgers pic.twitter.com/pw8EAWAiKI
— Michigan State Football (@MSU_Football) November 24, 2018
The Spartans enter this game averaging 221 yards per contest through the air and 122 yards a game on the ground this season. Michigan State is 124th in the nation in scoring with 19.8 points per contest and 14th in scoring defense by allowing 18 points per game. Brian Lewerke has completed 162 of 299 passes for 1,868 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions while adding 121 yards plus two scores on the ground. Rocky Lombardi is 68 of 154 for 738 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Connor Heyward leads the Spartans on the ground with 114 carries for 520 yards and five scores. La’Darius Jefferson (78 carries, 255 yards, two TD) and LJ Scott (55 carries, 180 yards) are next in line on the ground. Scott has dealt with ankle injuries all season and has originally decided to redshirt: he changed his mind and declared for the NFL Draft. Felton Davis III is the team’s 4th-leading receiver with 31 receptions for 474 yards and four scores. Darrell Stewart Jr. (39 catches, 368 yards, TD), Cody White (36 grabs, 491 yards, two TD) and Heyward (32 grabs, 249 yards) are solid outlets in the passing game. Matt Coghlin has booted all 25 extra points and 16 of 19 field goals with a long of 49 this season.
Mark Dantonio on the quarterback situation. He’s expected to use Lewerke and Lombardi.
“Well, we wanted to let things take their course through bowl preparations and everything. Brian Lewerke will start the game, so he’ll be our starter as we go through. He’s taken all the reps through bowl practices now that we’re in to number 10 or 11, or whatever it is, so we feel good about that. Rocky has done a nice job as well, obviously he’s played a lot of football for us as well, and he’ll have an opportunity as well, should things go in that direction.”
Oregon Ducks Hope to Finish Season With Bowl Win
Oregon had an up and down season as they battled with injuries but closed the season on a positive note by throttling Oregon State in the Civil War. The Ducks hope to finish the season with a bowl win to close the year with nine wins. Oregon jumped in front of Oregon State 21-0 in the second quarter and didn’t look back en route to the win. The Ducks rolled up a 510-336 edge in total offense, picked up 26 first downs while allowing 21 and owned time of possession by a 32:49 to 27:11 margin. For good measure, Oregon forced four turnovers while not recording a giveaway in the contest.
— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) November 24, 2018
The Ducks are a solid enough offense this season as they are 17th in the FBS in scoring offense with an average of 37.2 points per game. The team is averaging 254.7 yards per game through the air this season. The Ducks pound the ball on the ground, racking up 192.8 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry on the year. Oregon had their issues on the defensive side of the ball this season as they are 63rd in the nation in scoring defense by allowing 27 points per game. Justin Herbert is back under center to run the offense for the Ducks. He has hit 221 of 371 passes for 2,985 yards with 28 touchdowns and eight interceptions while adding 173 yards plus two scores on the ground. Braxton Burmeister is five of 10 for 43 yards while adding 29 yards on the ground. Tony Brooks-James is third on the team with 57 carries for 306 yards and four scores. CJ Verdell (188 carries, team-high 975 yards, 10 TD) and Travis Dye (134 carries, 721 yards, four TD) also work in the ground game.
— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) December 29, 2018
In the passing game, Dillon Mitchell has reeled in a team-high 69 passes for 1,114 yards and nine scores. Jaylon Redd (31 catches, 368 yards, five TD) and Jacob Breeland (22 receptions, 351 yards, two TD) are solid secondary targets. Adam Stack has hit all 35 extra point attempts and six of 10 field goal tries with a long of 39. Zach Emerson is 21 of 22 on extra points and missed his lone field goal attempt this season.
- No Key Trends
- Spartans are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games
- Spartans are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win
Updated on Dec 30 at 11:15pm EST
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
Oregon has gone from -1.5 to -2 while getting 62% of the bets. There may be some Sharps on the side of the Spartans keeping the line down a bit.
Injury / Weather Report
No Weather Issues Expected
Michigan State’s Impact Injury Report
Out— DB Justin Layne (72 Tackles, NFL Draft)
Oregon’s Impact Injury Report
Out— RB Tony Brooks-James (306 Yards)
Questionable— LB Jalen Jelks (53 Tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3.5 Sacks), RB CJ Verdell (975 Yards, 12 TDs),
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Michigan State’s offense, or lack thereof, is a major concern in this game. The Spartans are just 115th in the nation in rushing offense and the fact that the passing game has struggled doesn’t help matters. Michigan State has had to rely too heavily on their defense and that could prove problematic against an Oregon team that can move the ball and put up hefty point totals. The Spartans just don’t have the weapons offensively to keep pace: this one ends up in favor of the Ducks.
Prediction: Oregon Ducks -3
Full-Game Total Pick
Michigan State hasn’t scored more than 24 points in any of their last eight games: in fact, they’ve only hit the 20 point mark three times in that span, or the same number of games where they have put up seven points or less in that span. As it stood, the Spartans needed a late touchdown to avoid another single-digit output against a lowly Rutgers program. Oregon isn’t as explosive as they were with the Blur offense in previous seasons but they still are capable of moving the sticks and putting points on the board. Can the Ducks come up with the victory here?
The under is 7-0 in the Spartans’ last 7 games overall, 4-0 in their last 4 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game, 5-0 in their last 5 games on grass and 4-0 in their last 4 games following an ATS loss. Oregon has seen the under go 5-0 in their last five on grass and 5-1 in their last 6 games after accumulating less than 170 yards passing in their previous game. With Michigan State’s lack of offensive production all season long, this one likely ends up under the number.
Prediction: Under 48