Pinstripe Bowl Preview: Michigan State Spartans Vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
While bowl season usually means warm weather for the holidays, Michigan State will be heading somewhere more fitting for this time of year.
After needing wins in each of their final two regular-season games just to become bowl eligible, the Spartans learned on Sunday evening that they would be heading to New York to play in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium against Wake Forest on December 27th.
The matchup will be the first time Michigan State (6-6) has faced Wake Forest (8-4) and will be Michigan State’s first appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl
Wake Forest finished the season tied for third place in the ACC Atlantic Division but lost three of its final four games of the season.
The Demon Deacons present an interesting challenge for the Spartans with an offense that ranks No. 12 in the country in total offense, with over 470 yards per game, and is also in the top 20 in the country in passing (297.8 yards per game) and is ranked No. 39 in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 32.8 points per game.
Wake Forest junior quarterback Jamie Newman had led the way for the offense, throwing for 2,693 yards and 23 touchdowns while completing over 60-percent of his passes, but has been without leading receiver Sage Surratt in recent weeks after the sophomore suffered an apparent shoulder injury in a loss to Virginia Tech on November 9th.
Surratt will miss the bowl game because of his injury and finished the year with 66 catches for over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. No. 2 receiver Kendall Hinton has recorded 70 catches for 953 yards and three touchdowns and has hauled in 27 catches in his last four games.
The Wake Forest rushing attack also ranks in the top 50 in the country, averaging 175.7 yards per contest and the Demon Deacons’ leading rushers, Cade Carney and Kenneth Walker III, have rushed for 556 yards and 555 yards respectively this season.
Defensively, the Demon Deacons have been considerably easier to solve this season as they enter the bowl game ranked No. 79 in the country in both total defenses (allowing 409.8 yards per game) and scoring defense (29.3 points per game allowed). Considering Michigan State’s struggles offensively the past two years, there are no guarantees, but there is a possibility the Spartans find some kind of success against the Wake Forest defense in New York.
Leading the way for the Wake Forest defense are linebackers Ryan Smenda Jr. (72 tackles) and Justin Strnad (69 tackles), defensive lineman Carlos Basham Jr. (10 sacks, 53 tackles) and defensive back Amari Henderson (36 tackles, 10 pass deflections, four interceptions).
The Pinstripe Bowl will mark the 12th time in Mark Dantonio’s 13 years as head coach that the Spartans will have appeared in a bowl game. The Spartans are 5-6 in bowl games under Dantonio. Overall, this will be Michigan State’s 29th bowl appearance. The Spartans are 12-16 in bowl games.
For all of the latest news on the 2019 Michigan State football team and this year’s New Era Pinstripe Bowl, be sure to stay tuned to Spartan Nation!
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