Following an impressive regular season, the Michigan State defense has one more test waiting for it when the Spartans take on Oregon in the Redbox Bowl on December 31st in Santa Clara, California.
The Spartans will be tasked with slowing down a high-octane Duck offense led by one of the nation’s top signal-caller, junior Justin Herbert.
While the Ducks aren’t quite as prolific on offense as they were under Chip Kelly, Oregon has continued to be one of the country’s best offensive units in recent years and currently rank 31st in total offense and 17th in scoring offense this season under first-year head coach Mario Cristobal.
“I think you’re looking for a location where you have fans, which we’ve already talked about, we have a fan base there, and I think also the quality opponent, I think Justin Herbert could possibly be a first round pick this year, and people have even said the first pick I’ve heard,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said after learning his team would be facing Oregon. “So we’re going to play an outstanding quarterback.”
Herbert, who injured his shoulder in the regular season finale against Oregon State, has thrown for 2,985 yards and 28 touchdowns, while completing just under 60-percent of his passes in 2018.
Cristobal told reporters after the bowl announcement that Herbert will play in the Redbox Bowl later this month and described the injury as a “really deep bruise”.
The news was promising news for Herbert, not just because of his bowl status, but for his professional aspirations as well, as most draft experts consider the junior signal caller the top quarterback in the 2019 draft if he chooses to declare.
While the Michigan State defense has been stout all season long, the Spartans will have their hands full trying to slow down the Ducks and their prolific quarterback as they rank No. 64 in the nation in passing defense.
A big factor in Michigan State’s ability to slow down Herbert and the Ducks, will be the status of sophomore cornerback Josiah Scott, who could be given a redshirt for the 2018 season if he sits out of the bowl game.
Earlier this month, Dantonio told reporters that he hadn’t given any thought to whether or not Scott will play and again indicated that the decision is Scott’s to make.
“We really haven’t had a chance to think about that yet, that will be something that Josiah decides,” he said. “But I don’t have any thoughts on that right now, that would be a football decision at a later time.”
If Scott chooses not to play in the Redbox Bowl, the Spartans will still have plenty experience in the secondary to match-up with a deep Oregon receiving corp, led by Dillon Mitchell, who has recorded 69 catches for 1,114 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, with safeties Khari Willis and David Dowell, along with cornerback Justin Layne.
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