5 Keys to a TCU victory

TCU and Michigan State are 48 hours away from battling in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

The Frogs play in their eighth consecutive bowl game Saturday night as they face 6-6 Michigan State in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

TCU is aiming to improve their record to 8-5 but there is a tough task ahead with the Spartans and their #4 ranked defense in the nation. MSU lost five games by a combined 13 points.

What will it take for the Frogs to get the "w"? We break down five important phases of the game that the Frogs will need to accomplish to win the game.

Key #1: Shut down Le'Veon Bell

Bell has rushed for nearly 1,700 yards this season
This one is no secret and it will be much more difficult than it sounds. Le'Veon Bell is Michigan State's offense and if the Horned Frogs want to pull out the victory, they'll need to put on a clinic with their run defense. The 6'2" 240 pound Junior RB could be playing his last collegiate game and he'll want to go out with a bang. I see this as strength vs. strength as TCU is well known for controlling opponent's running games. If TCU shuts down Bell, Michigan State will struggle to score, it's as simple as that. Hit #24 early and often and make a statement heading into next season.

Key #2: Contain Maxwell and force him into bad decisions

Again, it sounds simple, but execution will be the key. It's well known that Michigan State struggled offensively this year and Maxwell has taken a lot of heat from the Spartan faithful. Maxwell has completed just 52.9% of his passes this season for 2,578 yards with 13 Touchdowns and 9 interceptions. If TCU can rattle Maxwell early and keep him in the pocket, it could be a long night for the Junior signal caller. Two of the best defensive ends in the country will be pinning their ears back as Stansly Maponga and Devonte Fields are licking their chops. The dynamic pass rushing duo of Maponga and Fields want to put on a show for the national audience.

Key #3: Control the clock and execute in the red zone

The key to TCU's offense will be to get points when they're in the red zone. Too many time this year, the Frogs shot themselves in the foot costing the team points on multiple occasions. If TCU is efficient on offense, they should be able to score enough points to win. I think the magic number is 24 here and TCU will get the "W" if they get there first. One of the top teams in the nation in time of possession, the Frogs will again need this formula to come out victorious.

Key #4: Be the more physical team

TCU could use a big game from Cain
This one will be tough. If there's one thing you can say for Michigan State it's that they play physical. They are huge on both sides of the ball and they'll be one of the bigger teams that TCU has played all year. TCU will have the speed advantage but if they want to send a message, they'll have to get physical at the point of attack. A swarming defensive effort will be what's needed if TCU hopes to neutralize the Spartan's size advantage. Do this and Michigan State will become more and more frustrated at their inability to move the ball.

Key #5: Bring your own energy

Just like other road games this season, TCU will need to bring their own energy. They should have a nice crowd decked out in purple but if TCU treats this game like they did their other road games this year, they should come out on top. Senior Kenny Cain will be the vocal leader and you know he'll want to leave every ounce of his being out on the field Saturday night. Look for the young players to continue their growth and for them to take a huge step toward 2013 with a big game in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. If TCU can put these things together, it will be a great night for the Frogs and their fans on Saturday.

Prediction: TCU 27 Michigan State 17

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