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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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Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MIA 94
CHA 93
Final
MEM 107
LAC 91
Final
BOS 88
POR 94
Final
OKC 86
GSW 91
 
1st
LAL 4
DEN 2
 
Final
GMAS 60
COC 61
Final
FSU 69
UMASS 75
Final
SHSU 53
WOFF 64
Final
UNCG 67
YOUNG 76
Final
CMICH 75
ARKPB 43
 
Final
ILLCH 60
SILL 67
Final
MORE 46
AMER 51
Final
CORN 59
DREX 61
Final
CCST 60
COOK 65
Final
ARKLR 94
CSNO 88
Final
LEH 44
CLMB 54
 
Final
USB 89
MERMAR 54
 
Final
NMU 51
TEXAM 64
Final
STLU 56
TAMCC 62
 
Final
FAIR 80
SD 72
Final
EMICH 79
LONG 48
Final
ND 74
PROV 75
Final
RAD 88
CATAWBA 52
 
Final
DEN 80
COPST 54
 
Final
UAB 58
JST 50
 
Final
WICHS 105
NWM 57
Final
OKLA 90
NWST 68
Final
KSU 59
YALE 66
Final
CREI 65
NCCU 45
 
Final
NCSU 68
SFLA 65
Final
UCR 102
STKAT 49
 
Final
PSU 63
USC 61
Final
HC 101
NICHOLSCOL 70
 
Final
BC 53
DAY 65
Final
MON 75
TOWS 79
Final
HOF 93
WAGN 71
 
Final
CIN 54
EILL 49
Final
UGA 74
FATL 61
Final
BRAD 58
NCAT 50
 
Final
LATU 76
PBY 48
Final
RUTG 76
Terriers 73
 
Final
SAMF 64
UMKC 55
Final
NAVY 70
BING 68
Final
SHU 85
GWEBB 67
Final
UNT 58
IONA 78
Final
KENT 86
MNTST 28
Final
FORD 57
MLOWELL 64
 
Final
UCF 76
USCU 69
 
Final
SCAR 63
AKR 68
 
Final
WVU 78
UCONN 68
 
Final
CALST 70
DEL 52
 
Final
HOW 78
HOOD 51
 
Final
OSU 106
SHU 48
Final
VANDY 78
TENST 46
2nd
NE 63
MAN 43
 
2nd
COLST 68
MERC 58
 
2nd
MISS 61
NARZ 51
 
2nd
WASH 57
PAC 48
 
Final
LMU 82
SDCHR 60
 
1st
CHAR 22
MIAMI 26
 
1st
GAELS 21
UCI 21
 
1st
ILLST 15
ODU 4
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCLA
LBSU
10:30pm Tonight
SEAT
MONT
 
Final
WIN 2
STL 4
Final
NYR 5
MON 0
 
2nd Intermission
ANA 2
ARI 0
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
CHI
Final
HOU 13
CIN 22
Final
ATL 24
CLE 26
Final
NEP 34
DET 9
Final
MIN 21
GBP 24
Final
IND 23
JAC 3
Final
CHI 21
TAM 13
Final
PHI 43
TEN 24
Final
SEA 19
ARI 3
Final
SDC 27
STL 24
Final
DEN 39
MIA 36
Final
SFX 17
WAS 13
2nd
NYG 21
DAL 10