SportsPac12: Oregon-MSU Redbox Bowl Preview
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Oregon-MSU Redbox Bowl Preview

December 30, 2018

Oregon and Michigan meet for the seventh time in this year's renamed Redbox Bowl.

Oregon vs. Michigan State: Redbox Bowl Details, Prediction, and Preview


Oregon (8-4, 5-4) vs Michigan State (7-5, 5-4)
Monday, December 31, 12:00 p.m. PT, FOX
Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

Straight-Up: Oregon in a Close Win
Against the Spread: Oregon  (-2.5)

The Ducks started the year fast, beating rival Washington to go 5-1 and jump into the Top 25, raising expectations for a return to national prominence. But three road losses at WSU, Utah, and Arizona, dashed their hopes for a championship season. 

While Oregon rebounded with two season-ending wins, a fourth-straight postseason loss would take much of the luster off an otherwise successful season. And spoil a bit of good news.

Having announced he's coming back to Oregon for his senior season, Justin Herbert can take a big step toward establishing himself as the nation's top returning quarterback with a strong performance against the Spartans on New Year's Eve.

That could prove challenging.

Led by Kenny Willekes, Michigan State boasts the best rush defense in the country, and the No. 14 defense overall. Willekes, the Big Ten's Defensive Lineman of the Year, recorded 76 tackles, including 20.5 for a loss to go with his eight sacks and an interception. 

As a result, Oregon freshmen running backs CJ Verdell and Travis Dye may not find a lot of holes up front. Herbert can ease their burden by exploiting his special connection with Dillon Mitchell, who pulled in 69 catches for 1,114 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

If the Ducks hold their own on offense, the Spartans could find their own offense struggling. MSU's offense ranks near the bottom of the FBS, averaging just 19.8 points per game, and fared worse as the season wound down, managing only 26 points total in their last three outings.

In the end, the Ducks should be able to contain Michigan State's plodding offense while also racking up enough yards and points to stress and overcome a stout Spartan defense. 

Against the Spread

  • Ducks are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games overall
  • Ducks are 2-5 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
  • Ducks are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games
  • Ducks are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games on grass
  • Spartans are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 neutral site games
  • Spartans are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games in December
  • Spartans are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 vs. Pac-12
  • Spartans are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games on grass

        Notes: The all-time series is tied 3-3, with Michigan State winning the last meeting 31-28 at Lansing in 2015. The home team has won all six meetings. A Duck victory would mark the first time since 2011 that Oregon has closed a season with three straight wins.

        The Ducks haven't won a bowl game since defeating Florida State in the 2015 College Football Playoff Rose Bowl, losing the national title game that same year, the Alamo Bowl in 2015, and the Las Vegas Bowl last December. While Mario Cristobal coached in that game, he can become only the second head coach in UO history to win a bowl game in his first full season.

        The Spartans have won five of their last six bowls, including a 42-17 thrashing of Washington State last year, with their only loss coming to Alabama in the 2015 College Football Playoff Cotton Bowl. Mark Antonio has led MSU to a school-record 11 bowl games.

        oregonKey STATs & Infomichigan STATE
        Pac-12 NorthConferenceBig Ten
        N/aCFP Committee RankingN/A
        37.2Points per Game19.8
        27.0Points Allowed18.0
        446Yards per Game343
        254.7Passing Yards per Game221.0
        191.3Rushing Yards per Game122.0
        143.1Rushing Yards Allowed per Game81.3
        247.4Passing Yards Allowed per Game230.2
        391Yards Allowed per Game312
        Justin Herbert
        2,985 yards (28 TDS, 8 INTS)
        Passing Yardage and TD LeadersBrian Lewerke
        1,868 yards (8 TDs, 10 INTs)
        C.J. Verdell
        975 yards, 10 TDs
        Rushing LeadersConnor Heyward
        520 yards, 5 TDs
        Dillon Mitchell
        1,114 yards, 9 TDs
        Receiving LeadersCody White
        491 yards, 2 TDs
        Troy Dye
        107 total tackles
        Defensive LeadersJoe Bachie
        94 total tackles

        Remaining Pac-12 Bowl Game Schedule

        —Monday, December 31—
        Sun: Stanford vs Pitt
        Redbox: Oregon vs. Michigan State
        Holiday: Utah vs. Northwestern

        —Tuesday, January 1—
        Rose: Washington vs. Ohio State