College Football Picks Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan Wolverines vs Kansas State Wildcats

2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Michigan Wolverines vs Kansas State Wildcats

Sun Devil Stadium – Tempe, Arizona
Saturday, December 28, 2013, 9:15 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Kansas State -3
Current Line: Kansas State -5 1/2
Opening Total: 56
Current Total: 54 1/2
Opening Money Line: Kansas State -180 / Michigan +155
Current Money Line: Kansas State -210 / Michigan +180

Kansas State is a 5.5 point favorite against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe.
Kansas State is a 5.5 point favorite against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe.

Although both the Michigan Wolverines and Kansas State Wildcats are both 7-5, these two teams arrived at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, in Tempe, AZ heading in different directions. Michigan started off the season 5-0, but went 2-5 down the stretch. Kansas State opened the season 2-4 but went 5-1 in their last six games. These two schools have never faced each other in football before.

Michigan went 3-5 in the Big Ten Legends division. The Wolverines are 20-22 in bowl games all-time. The Wolverines have played in 3 straight bowl games after missing a bowl game in 2009 for the first time in 33 seasons. Michigan has gone 3-7 in their last 10 bowl games including a 33-28 loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl last season. Michigan hasn’t played in a bowl game in Arizona since the 1986 Fiesta Bowl, when the Wolverines beat Nebraska 27-23.

Kansas State finished fifth in the Big 12 with a 5-4 record. Kansas State is 6-10 all-time in bowl games and has lost 5 straight post season games. Kansas State lost to Oregon 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl last year. The Wildcats have played in the Fiesta Bowl 3 times, and in this bowl twice when it was held in Tucson and Phoenix.

Michigan is coached by Brady Hoke. The Wolverines have home wins over Central Michigan 59-9, Notre Dame 41-30, Akron 28-24, Minnesota 42-13, and Indiana 63-47, along with road wins at Connecticut 24-21, and Northwestern 27-19 in triple overtime. Michigan has road losses at Penn State 43-40 in quadruple overtime, Michigan State 29-6, and Iowa 24-21, along with home losses to Nebraska 17-13 and Ohio State 42-41 to close out the regular season. Against then undefeated Ohio State, Michigan had a chance to tie the game late and send it into overtime with an extra point but tried to go for two and win the game.  The Wolverines are 7-5 ATS and the total is 6-6 this season. Michigan was a 17 point underdog against Ohio State and the total was 57.

Michigan is outscoring teams 34-27. Michigan is #36 in scoring and #66 in points allowed out of 125 FBS teams. The Wolverines are averaging 382.8 total yards per game #84 nationally) including 252.1 passing (#44) and 130.8 rushing (#102) yards per game. On defense Michigan is allowing 367.4 total yards (#35 nationally) including 228 passing and 139.4 rushing (#28) yards per game. The Wolverines are +5 in turnovers with 25 takeaways. Michigan averages 34 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 38. The Wolverines are 74/183 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 75/195. Michigan has forced 23 sacks and allowed 35. The Wolverines are 45/53 scoring in the red zone with 36 touchdowns and opponents are 35/41 with 21 touchdowns. Michigan has one punt return for a touchdown, a fumble return for a TD and 2 pick sixes and has allowed 3 defensive scores.

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner is out Saturday with a toe injury. Gardner has completed 60.3% of his passes for 2,960 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also has 165 carries for 483 yards and 11 touchdowns. Freshman Shane Morris will start at quarterback. Morris has completed 5 of 9 passes for 65 yards with an interception.

Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has 183 carries for 646 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 17 catches for 203 yards. Derrick Green has 82 carries for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns. De’Veon Smith has 22 carries for 110 yards. Thomas Rawls has a rushing touchdown, but it questionable with a knee injury. Two little used running backs Wyatt Shallman and Drake Johnson are both out for the season.

Receiver Jeremy Gallon has 80 catches, 1,284 yards and 9 touchdowns. Devin Funchess has 47 catches, 727 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt and Drew Dileo will also get some catches. Butt  and Dileo each have two touchdown catches. Joe Reynolds has a punt return for a touchdown. Little used receiver Amara Darboh is out for the season with a foot injury. Kicker Brendan Gibbons is out for undisclosed reasons. Matt Wile will handle the placekicking duties for the Wolverines.

Kansas State is coached by Bill Snyder. The Wildcats have home losses to  North Dakota State 24-21, Baylor 35-25, and Oklahoma 41-31, along with road losses at Texas 31-21 and Oklahoma State 33-29. Kansas State has home wins over Louisiana 48-27, Massachusetts 37-7, West Virginia 35-12, Iowa State 41-7 and TCU 33-31, along with road wins at Texas Tech 49-26 and Kansas to close out the regular season 31-10. The Wildcats are 7-5 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season. Kansas State was a 17.5 point favorite against rival Kansas and the total was 52.

Kansas State is outscoring teams 33-24 this season. KSU is #37 in scoring and #35 in points allowed nationally. The Wildcats are averaging 401.3 total yards per game including 220.8 passing and 180.5 rushing yards. On defense, K-State is allowing 367.9 yards per game, including 222.6 passing yards and 145.3 rushing yards. Kansas State is in the top 50 in all three categories nationally. The Wildcats are even in turnovers with 24 giveaways and takeaways. K-State is averaging 43 penalty yards per game and opponents are averaging 38. Kansas State is 76/158 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 88/210. The Wildcats have forced 27 sacks and allowed 23. Kansas St is 38/44 scoring in the red zone with 28 touchdowns and opponents are 37/41 with 24 touchdowns. The Wildcats have 4 defensive touchdowns and a kickoff return for a touchdown, and have allowed a kick return for a touchdown and a pick six.

Quarterback Jake Waters has completed 59.2% of his passes for 2,198 yards with 15 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, along with 106 carries for 270 yards and 6 touchdowns. Back-up Daniel Sams takes a few snaps a game, but is more dangerous with his legs. He has 148 carries for 784 yards and 11 touchdowns, and has thrown for 452 yards with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

Running back John Hubert has 182 carries, 968 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 12 catches, 127 yards and a touchdown. Robert Rose has 22 carries for 102 yards with 2 touchdowns, plus a catch for 23 yards.

Receiver Tyler Lockett has 71 catches, 1,146 yards and 8 touchdowns. Tramaine Thompson has 28 catches, 495 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus a kick return for a touchdown. Curry Sexton has 36 catches for 409 yards.  Glenn Gronkowski (younger brother of Patriots’ tight end Rob) has 4 catches for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Michigan is 6-1 ATS after a straight up loss, and after allowing more than 200 rushing yards, 4-1 after gaining more than 450 total yards, after allowing 450 total yards or more, and against Big 12 teams, 7-18-1 after passing for 280 yards or more, 2-6 after allowing 40 points or more, and 1-5 after scoring 40 points or more.

Kansas State is 4-1 ATS after a cover, and after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 8-2 after allowing less than 275 yards, 15-5-1 against teams with winning records, 6-2 overall, 3-1-1 on grass, 10-4-1 after allowing less than 20 points, 11-5-1 after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 2-5 in neutral site games, 2-6 after a straight up win, 1-4 in non-conference games, 1-4-1 after passing for 170 yards or less, and 0-5 in bowl games.


Michigan was struggling even before Gardner went down with the injury. It will be difficult for a true freshman who has only played in two games in garbage time to have success. The Wolverines will likely lean on Toussaint more without Gardner, whose rushing yards will also be difficult to replace. Kansas State has been playing much better since a slow start. They have cut way back on the turnovers that plagued them in the first half of the season. I like Kansas State to win and cover.

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