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Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan vs. Kansas State

Buffalo_Wild_Wings_BowlThe Michigan Wolverines and Kansas State Wildcats meet in the desert Saturday to contest the 2013 installment of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Kick-off at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., is scheduled for 10:15 p.m. ET.

Both teams make their way to the Phoenix suburbs after a disappointing campaign.

Kansas State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) began life without Heisman-contending quarterback Collin Klein by losing to North Dakota State on opening day. Four losses within the Big 12 followed, leaving Bill Snyder’s team looking up at the best the conference had to offer.

While the Wildcats’ disappointing season was to be expected somewhat, few could have predicted the season Michigan (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten) was to suffer. After a fairly comfortable start to the year, the Wolverines came unglued in conference play, dropping five of eight games within the Big Ten to finish a miserable fifth in the Legends Division.

Both schools will look to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to provide a late boost to morale before preparation begins for a better campaign next next year.

The matchup in Arizona marks the first time the two sides have taken to a football field against each other.

The big news ahead of the game is that Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, who almost led the Wolverines to an upset win over Ohio State in their season finale, will not play on Saturday. Gardner, who has racked up 2,960 yards through the air and 483 yards on the ground this season, injured his foot against the Buckeyes and has been ruled out of the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

Freshman Shane Morris will replace Gardner at quarterback, marking his first career start.

“It’s been my dream since I was a little kid to be the starting quarterback at the University of Michigan,” Morris told the media on Thursday.

“Finally having that opportunity and that being in a bowl game, that’s huge. I’m really excited.”

For Kansas State, Snyder has been attempting to prepare his side for its first meeting with Michigan.

“The idea that you are playing the University of Michigan, regardless of where that happens to be or when, is an amazing challenge,” he said via The Kansas Star.

“If you aren’t up for that, you are in some serious trouble.”

If the Wildcats can deflect some of that Michigan mythos, they may have their best chance of knocking off one of college football’s true powerhouses, something bookmakers are expecting.

Without QB Devin Gardner, Michigan will be an underdog against Kansas State.

Without QB Devin Gardner, Michigan will be an underdog against Kansas State.

Michigan Wolverines vs. Kansas State Wildcats odds for 12/28/2013

Kansas State (-172) opened as the favorite over Michigan (+152) on the moneyline.

After a slow start to the year, the Wildcats have won five of their last six games. That one loss came against Oklahoma on November 20. By contrast, the Wolverines have lost five of their last seven and recorded three wins by one score or less this season.

Neither side has fared well in bowl games in recent years. Michigan (20-22 bowl games) has lost six of its last eight bowl games, including last year’s Outback Bowl against South Carolina. Kansas State (6-10 bowl games) meanwhile has lost five straight bowl games and six of the last seven. The Wildcats’ last win came in the 2002 Holiday Bowl, a 34-27 win over Arizona State, proprietors of the stadium the team will play in on Saturday.

Kansas State is 1-1 in this particular bowl game, having defeated Wyoming in the 1993 when it was known as the Copper Bowl, and lost to Syracuse in the 2001 Insight Bowl as it was known then.

Michigan will take its Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl bow on Saturday.

The spread opened at 4 in favor of Kansas State and has climbed to 5 with some sportsbooks.

Both teams recorded a 7-5-0 ATS record this season. However, the Wolverines have covered in three straight games while the Wildcats are 1-2-0 ATS in that stretch.

Michigan recorded a 3-1-0 ATS record as an underdog while Kansas State was just 4-4-0 ATS as the favorite. That being said the Wildcats are 3-1-0 ATS away from Manhattan, Kan.

The over/under opened at 57.5 and has dropped as low as 54.5.

Kansas State (7-5-0) marginally favored the over this season while Michigan (6-6-0) split the over and under evenly.

The total went under in four of Michigan’s last five games and over in three of Kansas State’s last four.

For a comprehensive list of all College Football Bowl Game odds, click here.

A selection of team prop bets can be found here.

A selection of player prop bets can be found here.

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