Both Michigan and Michigan State will be without two of their stars heading into their bowl games. The Wolverines will be out their starting quarterback Devin Gardner, who is turf toe, according to usatoday.com.
“Michigan coach Brady Hoke said Monday that Gardner, who is suffering from turf toe, remains in a walking boot and added that freshman Shane Morris likely will start against the Wildcats.
Gardner suffered the injury Nov. 30 against Ohio State.
“It’s kind of day to day,” Hoke said during a news conference at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport after the Wolverines arrived in the Valley. “But right now if we were playing tonight he would not play. We’re going into it that Shane will be the guy.””
Freshman Shane Morris will get the start and it may not be a bad thing for the Wolverines. However, without play-maker Gardner I feel like it will be hard to generate offense. It will be interesting to see how they help the freshman Morris settle in to his first collegiate start.
Here is what Free Press beat writer Mark Snyder thinks about the game.
“Kansas State 31, Michigan 21: Kansas State is trotting out an offense that has played as a unit all season and is improving as the year goes on, with at least 31 points in each of the final six games as the team went 5-1. The Wolverines struggled for all of November and finally emerged against Ohio State. But playing Shane Morris, a freshman quarterback, is far too risky to count a team that finished the regular season 1-4. The Wildcats should end their five bowl game losing streak.”
The bigger story though belongs to Michigan State and the Rose Bowl. They will be without star linebacker Max Bullough due to a violation of team rules. No one knows what is publicly, but head coach Mark Dantonio announced the suspension on Wednesday.
In a statement, Dantonio said “it is extremely disappointing for all parties involved” and that the team will “close ranks” in preparation for MSU’s first Rose Bowl since 1988.
“Max will forever remain a Spartan and a valued member in this team’s achievements.”
I personally have no idea since there was no evidence of a police report. It is not not an academic problem since Bullough is an All-American in that category. Whatever it is it, it was a huge disappointment to the team but the Spartans believe they can focus despite the distraction.
Here’s a section of a story from the Free Press.
“MSU sophomore center Jack Allen refused to talk specifically about Bullough, but he said he expected MSU’s other two captains, senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard and senior offensive guard Blake Treadwell, to make up for some of the lost vocal leadership.
“And Denicos (Allen) and Fou (Fonoti),” Allen said. “A lot of guys. We’ve just got to bring an extra chip on our shoulder that day.”
Fonoti said Bullough’s teammates were “shocked” when they heard the news, “just like everyone.”
“That just gives us that much more reason to play,” Fonoti said. “That’s our brother, and we love him. We’ve got his back. We’re gonna play this game, and we’re gonna play with his mentality. We’re definitely gonna do it for him.””
We will see if both teams can rise to the occasion.