The 10th annual Pinstripe Bowl features Michigan State (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) and Wake Forest (8-4, 4-4 ACC) and is set to kick off at 3:20 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium.
This will be the first meeting between the two teams.
For the Spartans, this is their 29th bowl appearance in school history after a season that included a top-25 AP Poll ranking and eventual five-game skid to four top-15 teams.
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A loud beginning of the 2019 season benefitted Wake Forest too. A 5-0 record, which coincided with their first AP top-25 ranking since 2008, to start the season helped steer the Demon Deacons to a program-record fourth consecutive bowl appearance.
Wake Forest vs. Michigan State football: Time, TV channel
Where: Yankee Stadium | Bronx, NY
How to watch: ESPN
How to listen: ESPN Radio
TV SCHEDULE: Complete college football bowl schedule, TV listings
Wake Forest vs. Michigan State football: Preview, prediction
Wake Forest ranks behind Clemson in several ACC categories, including points per game (32.8) and yards per game (473.4). Led by quarterback Jamie Newman, the Demon Deacons stood just ahead of the Tigers in passing yards per game with 297.8, first overall in the ACC. To make his performance even more impressive, Newman was competing against Clemson Trevor Lawrence, 2019's seventh-place Heisman finisher.
Sage Surratt was a key feature of the Wake Forest offense. He led the conference with 111.2 receiving yards per game until enduring a season-ending injury against Virginia Tech, the ninth game of the season. The Demon Deacons would lose two of the final three games of the regular season. To say losing Surratt was a devastating blow might be an understatement.
Michigan State has been tested by multiple high-powered teams this season, and those losses will likely benefit the Spartans in Friday's game. And so will its stronghold on defense.
After winning the 2018 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Kenny Willekes recorded 69 tackles and led the team with 9.0 sacks. The senior defensive end earned another spot on the All-Big Ten first team. Altogether, the Spartans ranked 18th in the country in total defense, allowing 319.2 yards per game.
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The Michigan State offense relied heavily on quarterback Brian Lewerke. The senior led the Big Ten with 234 completions, many being accented by receiver Cody White, who secured 58 catches for a team-best 825 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Elijah Collins added variety as a redshirt freshman, rushing for 892 yards and five touchdowns and earning All-Big Ten third team honors.
|Michigan state||Stat/Leader||wake forest|
|6-6 (4-5 Big Ten)||Record (Conference)||8-4 (4-4 ACC)|
|22||Points per game||32.8|
|22.67||Points allowed per game||29.2|
|361.5||Yards per game||473.4|
|319.2||Yards allowed per game||409.8|
|2527||Passing yards allowed||2966|
|1303||Rushing yards allowed||1951|
2759 (16 TDs, 12 INTs)
|Passing yards leader||Jamie Newman
2,693 (23 TDs, 10 INTs)
892, 5 TDs
|Rushing yards leader||Cade Carney
556, 5 TDs
825, 5 TDs
|Receiving yards leader||Kendall Hinton
1001, 11 TDs
81 total tackles, 15.0 tfl, 3.5 sacks
|Defensive leader||Ryan Smenda Jr.
72 total tackles, 6.0 tfl, 2.5 sacks
Expect a competitive effort by both teams, but Wake Forest's offense should be the deciding factor. Its, at times, explosive offense uplifted many defensive woes this season, and it would be fitting if the Demon Deacons finished 2019 off the way they started. There again, Michigan State's defense could silence any hopes Wake Forest has of punctuating what has been an exciting season.
The loss of Surratt gives Michigan State a better chance of halting Wake Forest's air game, but I foresee a clutch performance by Newman to lead the Demon Deacons to their fourth-straight bowl win.