Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl 2013 Preview: Michigan Wolverines vs. Kansas St. Wildcats

John Weast

Neither of these teams took a normal path to the postseason this year, which could make for one of the more intriguing match-ups of the early bowl season

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN

Suggested slogan: For the college football fan who just didn't get enough Buffalo Wild Wings commercials this year

The teams: Michigan Wolverines vs. Kansas St. Wildcats

How Michigan got here: At the end of perhaps one of the most confusing seasons in recent memory. Watch as the Wolverines beat a decent Notre Dame team by 11 points, then defeat Akron and UConn by a combined seven points! See them drop a truck on Minnesota, then lose to a Penn State team that lost to Minnesota by 14 points! And puzzle over that same team almost beating Ohio State in the regular season finale! Nothing this team did this season made a lick of sense, and the mishmash of statistical rankings are almost as bizarre as the outcomes. (The Wolverines were 83rd in total offense, but 36th in scoring offense; 37th in total defense and 65th in scoring defense; and had a +0.4 turnover a game edge that doesn't seem to explain the disparate results.) Throw in the fact that quarterback Devin Gardner (208-of-345, 2,960 yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions; 483 yards and 11 touchdowns running) is out, and you're a better analyst than I am if you have any idea what to expect from this team.

How Kansas State got here: After one of the more embarrassing losses in program history. The Wildcats started off the year losing at home to North Dakota State, which is notably not an FBS team. This being Kansas State, they had plenty of other cupcakes lined up, with wins over Louisiana-Lafayette and Massachusetts helping get the season back on track before three straight losses (at Texas, at Oklahoma State, Baylor) almost derailed it all over again. Then it was four consecutive wins against some of the lesser teams in the Big 12, followed by a loss to Oklahoma, followed by the season-ending victory at Kansas. Defensive end Ryan Mueller had an outstanding season, with 11.5 sacks among his 18.5 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles. On offense, the best player might be Tyler Lockett, who snagged 71 receptions for 1,146 yards and eight touchdowns.

College football fans care because: There is some resonance in the names associated with this game, though neither had a blockbuster season this year.

SEC fans care because: Georgia fans might care the most, given that it was rumored to be Bill Snyder's unwillingness to play Nebraska that got the Cornhuskers booted to the Gator Bowl. Comeuppance would probably be nice.

Bottom line: There almost isn't an outcome in this game that would surprise me. Michigan is almost certainly better with Gardner than without him, but it's also not like the guy was a Heisman Trophy contender. And Kansas State didn't exactly blow the doors off the Big 12 this year, essentially losing to the conference's good teams and beating the league's worst teams. So we'll make it a close pick. Kansas State 23, Michigan 21

Line: Kansas State by 5

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