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Michigan (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-5)



Saturday, December 28, 10:15 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Brandon Lawrence, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The Michigan Wolverines take a two-game losing skid into the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 28, where they'll meet up with the Kansas State Wildcats.

Brady Hoke's Wolverines are 7-5 on the season, but have lost four of their last five matchups. The one win in that five-game span was a triple overtime edging of Northwestern, 27-19, at home. Their most recent game against Ohio State was a one-point loss at home to the third-ranked Buckeyes, 42-41.

Kansas State, on the other hand, has won five of its last six, including a trouncing of 25th-ranked Texas Tech, 49-26. Bill Snyder's Wildcats have only lost once, to Oklahoma (41-31), since Oct. 26. Kansas State is also 7-5 on the season after the team lost four of its first six games.

It's the first-ever meeting between Michigan and Kansas State. It will also mark the first game for Michigan against a Big 12 program this season, and the first Big Ten team Kansas State has faced this season.

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, who started all 12 games for the Wolverines this season, could miss the bowl game as he is nursing a foot injury. Gardner was solid in 12 games this season, completing 208-of-345 pass attempts for 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Gardner ranks 31st in the FBS in passer efficiency with a 146.1 rating. If Gardner is unable to suit up, the team will be in the hands of freshman Shane Morris.

Regardless of who is throwing the ball, the go-to target is Jeremy Gallon, who caught 80 passes this season - 33 more than the second leading receiver on the Wolverines. Gallon amassed 1,284 receiving yards and nine touchdown grabs, averaging 107 yards per game.

Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint gives the Wolverines another dimension on offense, despite his low rushing average. Toussaint carried the ball 183 times this season and gained 646 yards on the ground - averaging 58.7 rushing yards per game - but scored 12 touchdowns. Gardner helped the Michigan offense with his legs as well, rushing for 483 yards and 11 touchdowns.

As a team, Michigan outscored its opponents 405-318 this season, averaging 33.8 points per game, good for 37th in the FBS.

Defensively, the Wolverines were led by defensive back Raymon Taylor and linebacker James Ross III. Both players recorded 81 total tackles, although Ross played in one fewer game than Taylor. Ross, who is questionable to play in the game with an undisclosed injury, also recorded five tackles for loss, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Taylor led the Michigan defense with nine pass breakups and had four interceptions in 12 games.

The Wolverines ranked 38th in the FBS defensively, giving up an average of 367.4 yards per game. Keeping opponents out of the end zone is where the Wolverines struggled a bit. Michigan was 64th in the country in scoring defense, giving up an average of 26.5 points per game.

Defensive end Frank Clark was the team leader in tackles for loss (12), sacks (4.5) and quarterback hurries (7).

This is Hoke's third bowl game as head of the Michigan program. He's 1-1 with an overtime win in the 2012 Sugar Bowl, and a loss last season in the Outback Bowl. Michigan is 20-21 all-time in its bowl history.

"We are excited to represent the Big Ten Conference in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and to face a challenging Big 12 Conference opponent in Kansas State," Hoke said. "This is a great opportunity for Team 134, and we relish the chance to play one of college football's most successful programs."

Kansas State finished right behind Michigan in scoring offense this season in the national rankings, averaging 33.4 points per game in the team's 12 games played. The Wildcats operated with two quarterbacks that were both adept at passing and running the football.

Junior Jake Waters completed 138-of-233 pass attempts in 12 games for 2,198 yards, 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Sophomore Daniel Sims also played in 12 games, and served more of a rushing purpose. Sims attempted just 52 passes all season, but carried the ball 148 times for 784 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Senior running back John Hubert led the team in carries with 182, gaining 968 yards on the ground with nine touchdowns.

The most consistent receiver for the Wildcats was Tyler Lockett, who hauled in 71 receptions in 11 games played, for 1,146 yards and eight scores.

Although Kansas State's offense was ranked just behind Michigan's in terms of points per game, the Wildcats' defense can be found just slightly ahead of the Wolverines' in total defense. Kansas State allowed 367 yards per game to opponents this season.

Senior linebacker Blake Slaughter led the team in total tackles with 103, while also notching three sacks, an interception, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Defensive end Ryan Mueller dominated opponents' backfields, as the junior recorded 11.5 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. The Wildcats are 36th in the country with a 23.7 points against average.

Snyder knows the importance of playing in a bowl game, and said his team obviously wants to win badly. But going up against Michigan is always a tough assignment.

"No. 1, it is just Michigan," Snyder said. "I know there is talk about trying to get back to the `old Michigan,' and it is evident. You can see it on tape. I was at Iowa for 10 years and when Bo Schembechler was at Michigan, we played them every single year and I know what that is like. They are a very physical football team. They are a team that will beat you with fundamentals and execution and toughness. They are moving in the direction that they are wanting to move in, and I think that is very, very positive."

Michigan isn't quite there yet and with Gardner likely sidelined, the Wolverines may have a tough time keeping up with the Wildcats.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 32, Michigan 27

12/25 09:25:55 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0
 
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
KAN 2
DET 3
Final
CHC 8
LOS 7
Final
OAK 0
PHI 3
Final
NYY 3
TOR 6
Final
COL 5
ARI 1
Final
BAL 7
BOS 2
Final
PIT 0
MIL 1
Final
TAM 3
CWS 1
Final
MIN 3
CLE 7
Final
ATL 2
NYM 4
Final
HOU 10
SEA 1
Final
MIA 2
WAS 3
Final
STL 8
CIN 4
Final
SDP 3
SFG 2
Final
ANA 8
TEX 5
1:05pm Today
NYY
TOR
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
WAS
 
1:35pm Today
BAL
BOS
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
ATL
NYM
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
CWS
 
2:10pm Today
MIN
CLE
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
DET
 
2:10pm Today
HOU
SEA
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
LOS
 
3:35pm Today
ANA
TEX
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
8:05pm Tonight
STL
CIN
 
Final
WISC 68
BGU 17
Final
MSU 73
EMICH 14
Final
VT 24
GT 27
Final
PITT 20
IOWA 24
Final
RICE 42
ODU 45
Final
UGA 66
TROY 0
Final
SYR 20
MD 34
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
COL 21
HAW 12
Final
AKR 17
MARS 48
Final
WAKE 24
ARMY 21
Final
KU 24
CMICH 10
Final
ALA 42
UF 21
Final
FIU 3
LOU 34
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
Final
NAVY 24
RUTG 31
Final
SMU 6
TEXAM 58
Final
MICH 10
UTAH 26
Final
BYU 41
UVA 33
Final
WYO 20
FATL 19
Final
MIZZ 27
IND 31
Final
PSU 48
UMASS 7
Final
MINN 24
SJST 7
Final
ILL 42
TXST 35
Final
WASH 45
GASTATE 14
Final
SMISS 21
APPST 20
Final
TOL 34
BST 23
Final
OHIO 36
IDAHO 24
Final
CIN 31
UMO 24
Final
MEM 36
MTST 17
Final
LSU 29
MSST 34
Final
ARK 52
NILL 14
Final
ARKST 21
UTST 14
Final
SALABAMA 6
GASO 28
Final
WVU 33
OKLA 45
Final
VANDY 34
SCAR 48
Final
NEB 41
MIAMI 31
Final
NMST 35
NMU 38
Final
HOU 47
UNLV 14
Final
FSU 23
CLEM 17
Final
ARZ 49
CAL 45
Final
ORST 28
SDST 7
Final
WASU 31
OREG 38
Final
BSU 34
LALAF 9
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
5:00pm Tonight
WAS
BUF
 
6:30pm Tonight
CLB
STL
 
8:00pm Tonight
EDM
CAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CAL
EDM
 
1:00pm Today
CLE
BAL
1:00pm Today
STL
DAL
1:00pm Today
DET
GBP
1:00pm Today
NYG
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
IND
1:00pm Today
NOS
MIN
1:00pm Today
NEP
OAK
1:00pm Today
BUF
SDC
1:00pm Today
CIN
TEN
1:00pm Today
PHI
WAS
4:05pm Today
ARI
SFX
4:25pm Today
SEA
DEN
4:25pm Today
MIA
KAN
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0