PASADENA, Calif. (GMC) -- During these past four seasons -- inarguably the greatest four-season stretch in the history of Stanford football -- the final game has not always gone in the Cardinal's favor, and so it was that Stanford fell to Michigan State in the 100th Rose Bowl.
There are probably a dozen great things about playing in a bowl game, but one of the biggest is the opportunity to play a team that isn't normally on the schedule. Stanford's recent run of success has featured bowl matchups with Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, and Wisconsin, four of the most successful programs in college football.
Wednesday's Rose Bowl adds Michigan State to that list. In many ways, the Spartans are a carbon copy of the Cardinal. Just as Stanford upset Oregon, the team everyone thought would win the Pac-12 and advance to the BCS championship game, Michigan State did the same thing to Ohio State.
But the similarities between the two teams run deeper than those on-field results. Like Stanford, Michigan State boasts one the nation's top defenses, and they entered the bowl season with the top run defense in the country (Stanford ranked #3). Like Stanford, the Spartans are led on offense by a dominant running back, Jeremy Langford, who has put together a string of hundred-yard games. Like Stanford, the Spartans have a quarterback, Connor Cook, who will make defenses pay for overcommitting to the run.
Aside from the BCS championship game, this throw-back Rose Bowl is the most compelling matchup of the bowl season, and it could turn out to be the best game. For a deeper look at Michigan State, I leave you in the capable hands of Hondo S. Carpenter, the founder and publisher of SpartanNation.com, probably the best place to look for news and information on the Spartans. (I'd also recommend following him on Twitter: @HondoCarpenter) Hondo's a good guy. Even after enduring a week without power, Hondo was still kind enough to answer some of my questions about his boys in Green and White. Enjoy! (You can also read my answers to Spartan versions of these same questions over on Hondo's site.)
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