Few things go together better than college football and a healthy helping of fried chicken -- and since 2012, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl has helped take things to the next level by literally combining the two. This year will also be the 25th edition of the Buffalo Wild Wings bowl -- even though it is only the second one under that name. Still, this sacred partnership deserves to be celebrated right.
The representatives for this one will come from the Big 12 and the Big Ten. Since this tradition began in 2006, the Big XII has won five games to the Big Ten's two.
Date and time, ET: Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m.
TV channel: ESPN
Location: Tempe, Ariz.
Stadium: Sun Devil Stadium (71,706 capacity)
Tickets: Find available seats here.
Last year's score: 17-16, Michigan State over TCU
Last year's attendance: 44,617
Last year's TV rating: 2.7
Last year's payout for each school: No figures were released for the 2012 game, but Oklahoma and Iowa both earned a reported $3.3 million for playing in 2011, when it was still the Insight Bowl.
Team with the most all-time appearances: Minnesota, with three. The Gophers are winless in those three appearances.
Team with the most all-time wins: California, Arizona, Texas Tech and Iowa State all tied with two.
Michigan (7-5, 3-5 B1G)
A disappointing 7-4 heading into the Ohio State game, Michigan could have been the team to tilt the entire balance of their season with a victory over the then No. 3 Buckeyes. Alas, it was not to be, as Devin Gardner’s two-point conversion was picked off, and the Wolverines would fall one point short of the upset. It was that kind of year for the Maize and Blue -- a disappointing Michigan lost five games, but four of them were by four points or less, including a four-OT heartbreaker to Penn State, when kicker Brendan Gibbons missed two field goals and had another blocked.
With a largely anemic running game -- the Wolverines finished 100th in the country in that department this season -- expect a heavy dose of Devin Gardner (2960 yards passing, 21 touchdowns), who was outstanding in the Ohio State loss. Fitzgerald Toussaint (646, 12 touchdowns) will man some of the rushing duties, but he and the Michigan offensive line have struggled all year long. Impact players on their defense include cornerback Blake Countess (6 interceptions, tied for 4th in the country) and defensive end Frank Clark, the team leader with 4.5 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss.
Last bowl game: 2013 Outback Bowl vs. South Carolina, 33-28 loss
Last year without a bowl: 2009
All-time bowl record: 20-22
Head coach's bowl record: Brady Hoke, 2-2
Kansas State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12)
A season-opening loss to North Dakota State could have spelled trouble for Bill Snyder and crew. Instead, the Wildcats picked themselves back up and rallied for another bowl season -- their fourth in a row. Their 7-5 record looks all the more surprising considering they were at one point 2-4, losing three in a row to Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett carries most of the load on offense, accounting for as many receiving yards individually as the team’s second- and third-leading receivers put together, with 1,146 to their 904. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he has caught more touchdowns than Tramaine Thompson and Curry Sexton, as well, eight to five.
On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats will lean heavily on defensive end Ryan Mueller, who has 18.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks on the season. Helping him out will be the fantastically named Blake Slaughter, who leads Kansas State with 103 tackles (6.0 for loss).
Last bowl game: 2013 Fiesta Bowl vs. Oregon, 35-17 loss
Last year without a bowl: 2009
All-time bowl record: 6-10
Head coach's bowl record: Bill Snyder, 6-8