Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson are two of the most well-respected leaders in college football. Both have take programs with many built-in disadvantages — historically and logistically — and turned them into consistent winners.
On Friday, Dantonio and Clawson will match wits inside Yankee Stadium, as their two teams will square off in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Michigan State (6-6) will be looking to log its ninth winning season over the last ten years, while Wake Forest (8-4) looks to extend its bowl game winning streak to four.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Michigan State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)
Kickoff: Friday, Dec. 27 at 3:20 p.m. ET
Where: Yankee Stadium (Bronx, N.Y.)
Spread: Michigan State -3.5
When Michigan State Has the Ball
The Spartan offense will be navigated by quarterback Brian Lewerke for the last time. The senior signal-caller has had a bit of a roller-coaster career in East Lansing. He'll be looking to close things out on a high note. Lewerke has had trouble taking care of the football in 2019 — tossing 12 interceptions. Look for a game plan that has him making short, high-percentage throws and utilizing his athleticism with designed runs.
When Lewerke does let it rip downfield, his favorite target is Cody White. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver is a matchup problem for a lot of corners in college football. He has 58 catches for 825 yards and five scores on the season.
This game — like most Michigan State games during the Dantonio era — is going to be physical. That's where the Spartan rushing attack comes into play. Look for Dantonio to lean heavily on freshman running back Elijah Collins in the second half to control the clock and tempo.
When Wake Forest Has the Ball
There are still questions about who will be starting under center for Clawson's Demon Deacons. Starting quarterback Jamie Newman was injured in the last game of the regular season against Syracuse, and his status is still up in the air. If he plays, he's a dangerous, dual-threat quarterback who can give a solid Michigan State defense some problems. The Spartans are going to be aggressive in coming after the quarterback, and Newman's mobility would help offset that.
If Newman can't go, it'll be Sam Hartman under center, who is a capable passer, but nowhere near the athlete that Newman is. Regardless of who the quarterback is, they'll be looking to get the ball to senior wideout Kendall Hinton. He's the best remaining option from an injury-depleted receiving corps for Wake Forest. Keep an eye on a potential matchup of Hinton and Michigan State corner Josiah Scott. That'll be a battle between two guys with futures on Sundays.
Injuries have plagued Wake Forest all season and they'll continue to do so in the Pinstripe Bowl. Regardless of who starts at quarterback, the Demon Deacons are going to have a tough time matching up with the Spartans in the trenches and in the passing game.
The Michigan State offense should be able to control the tempo on the ground in this one. They've seen better defenses than what Wake Forest has and had some success against those teams. This is going to be a low-scoring, physical affair — like so many Michigan State games in recent years.
Prediction: Michigan State 24, Wake Forest 13
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.