Series Record: Michigan State leads 3-2.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The 100th edition of the Granddaddy of Them All matches two appropriate throwback teams. Stanford and Michigan State have dominant defenses and run-first offenses capable of grinding out a victory, but the Cardinal also have the edge of experience from last season's Rose Bowl victory and four straight BCS bowls overall.
Stanford RB Tyler Gaffney vs. Michigan State LB Kyler Elsworth. Gaffney rushed for 1,618 yards and 20 TDs behind the Cardinal's dominant offensive line, and he's facing a Michigan State defense missing LB Max Bullough, who is suspended for the Rose Bowl. Elsworth will start and call defensive signals in Bullough's place, and he'll have to lead an inspired effort to slow down Stanford's run game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan State: QB Connor Cook. He isn't flashy, but the sophomore quietly gets things done right. After passing for 2,423 yards with 20 TDs and just five interceptions, Cook and his offense face an opponent that didn't allow more than 28 points all year.
Stanford: LB Trent Murphy. The second-team All-American wraps up his college career with his 40th consecutive start, and leads the Cardinal's big-play defense with 14 sacks and 21 1/2 tackles for loss.
FACTS & FIGURES
The first Rose Bowl game was played Jan. 1, 1902, and Stanford lost 49-0 to Michigan in what was billed as the "Tournament East-West football game" in Pasadena's Tournament Park. The game wasn't played again until 1916. ... Michigan State has won nine straight games and is making its first BCS appearance. ... Stanford has won six of seven, including the Pac-12 title game. ... Stanford beat Wisconsin 20-14 last year in Pasadena for the Cardinal's first Rose Bowl victory in 40 years. ... Michigan State is making its fifth Rose Bowl appearance, but its first since 1988. ... The last time these schools met, Stanford routed Michigan State 38-0 in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, 1996. ... The Cardinal are tied for the FBS lead with 40 sacks. ... Michigan State leads the FBS in total defense (248.2 yards per game), holding that spot for 13 consecutive weeks.