The Stanford Cardinal are no stranger to the Rose Bowl game, as they’ve played in The Granddaddy of Them All 14 times before today’s BCS Rose Bowl game against the Michigan State Spartans. Regular-season Rose Bowl games aside, which happens whenever the Cardinal play against the USC Trojans in USC’s home stadium, the Stanford Cardinal have performed well. Stanford’s all-time record is 6-6-1 in the Rose Bowl game. The Michigan State Spartans, meanwhile, are 3-1 lifetime in the Rose Bowl game. Records aside in this stadium, today’s BCS bowl game should be entertaining from start to finish as the No. 4 Spartans take on the No. 5 Cardinal. The Rose Bowl game is being broadcast live on ESPN, or you can watch Rose Bowl game online free using a few different services.
Stanford is no stranger to this Pac-12 venue, so today’s Rose Bowl game is almost like a home game for the Cardinal. Stanford finished the regular season at 11-2 (7-2 in in the Pac-12) and is making its second straight Rose Bowl game appearance after earning the Pac-12 BCS automatic qualifier. The University of Oregon Ducks had long been favored to get the BCS nod from the Pac-12, but the No. 10 Ducks lost to the Cardinal and Arizona State this season and were punted to the Alamo Bowl, which they won earlier this week against the Texas Longhorns.
That’s not to say Stanford didn’t have high expectations for the season. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan led the Cardinal to a victory in last year’s Rose Bowl game, and although this year wasn’t as flawless as Stanford fans would’ve liked, he had a great performance against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Championship game and has his team in today’s game.
The bigger player for the Cardinal is running back Tyler Gaffney, who’s also played in the Rose Bowl game before and knows what to expect today. Whereas Hogan had ups and downs, Gaffney had an outstanding senior season this year, rushing for 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns. As you watch Rose Bowl game online free today, keep an eye on whether Gaffney can keep up that performance. Just don’t feel sorry for him if he doesn’t. If Gaffney doesn’t make the NFL, he’s got a likely pro baseball career in his future after playing the 2012 season for a Pittsburgh Pirates farm team after the Pirates selected Gaffney in the 24th round of the 2013 draft. It took Stanford football coach David Shaw repeatedly texting Gaffney to get him to play this season.
The Spartans have equally potent players, although Michigan State generally gets more attention for its defense. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook played well in the Big Ten championship game against Ohio State, passing for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to nabbing the game’s MVP honors. Cook’s play will be vital against a Stanford defense that’s masterful at taking away the run game. Michigan State linebackers Kyler Elsworth and Darien Harris will be called upon as well, namely to stop Stanford’s Gaffney in the place of All-Big Ten middle linebacker Max Bullough, who was suspended last week and didn’t travel with the Spartans to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl game.
He picked a doozy to get suspended for. Today’s Rose Bowl game marks the 100th such game and is the sixth time the Stanford Cardinal has lined up against the Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State leads the series 3-2, but the teams have never squared-off in the Rose Bowl game, and the Big Ten Conference has lost nine of the past 10 Rose Bowl games in which it’s appeared. The 2014 Rose Bowl game is being televised live on ESPN starting at 5:00 EST / 2:00 PST. You can watch Rose Bowl game online free on ESPN3, which is also available through the ESPN mobile app and the ESPN app on Xbox 360. Doing so requires that you’re an ESPN subscriber to the cable sports network through a satellite or cable package. You can also try catching it on VIP Box, although we’re not big fans of that ad-filled streaming outlet.