|The scene at last year's Pinstripe Bowl. Photo by Jason Schott.|
The 10th installment of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl will feature a matchup between the Michigan State Spartans of the Big Ten and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons of the ACC at Yankee Stadium on Friday, December 27, with kickoff scheduled for 3:20 p.m.
Wake Forest will make the 14th bowl appearance in school history and its first in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. It will also be Michigan State's first appearance, and they become the sixth different Big Ten team, in six years of the bowl’s partnership with the conference, to play in the game.
“We are delighted to welcome the student-athletes, staff and families of Michigan State and Wake Forest to the 2019 New Era Pinstripe Bowl,” said Mark Holtzman, Executive Director of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. “New York City during the holiday season will offer an unforgettable setting throughout the entire week of bowl activities, and Yankee Stadium will shine a spotlight on two fantastic teams, each making its first appearance in this game. We are looking forward to adding to the legacy of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl with this exciting matchup.”
Special events, promotions and community outreach will take place throughout New Era Pinstripe Bowl week to once again create an unforgettable experience for fans, families, students and staff. Scheduled visits to New York City landmarks will include One World Observatory, the 9/11 Memorial, the New York Stock Exchange, Radio City Music Hall and more.
In addition, a special trophy tour will also see the George M. Steinbrenner III Trophy visit the campuses of both Michigan State and Wake Forest.
Michigan State will play in its 12th bowl game in 13 seasons under Head Coach Mark Dantonio, and it is the 29th bowl appearance in program history (12-16).
Michigan State has collected wins in five of its last seven postseason trips (since 2011). The Spartans (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) were mainstays in the top-25 of the AP poll over the first half of the 2019 season until a five-game skid that included defeats to three opponents ranked in the top-10 nationally (and another in the top-15).
A perennial powerhouse on defense, Michigan State has no shortage of talent on that side of the ball. Senior defensive end Kenny Willekes followed up his 2018 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year season with another appearance on the All-Big Ten First Team by recording 9.0 sacks, tied for fourth-most in the conference. Willekes is joined by senior defensive tackle Raequan Williams, a Second-Team selection, to form a stout run defense that holds opponents to 108.6 yards per game on the ground.
The pass-heavy Spartans offense relied on senior quarterback Brian Lewerke, who led the conference with 234 completions and ranked third with 229.9 passing yards per game. Redshirt freshman running back Elijah Collins enjoyed a breakout season, landing on the All-Big Ten Third Team by rushing for 892 yards and five touchdowns. Junior wideout Cody White hauled in 58 catches for a team-best 825 yards and five scores.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity of playing in a bowl game in New York City for the first time in school history,” said Michigan State Athletic Director Bill Beekman. “Michigan State has a great alumni base on the East Coast and playing in Yankee Stadium presents fans with a unique experience to watch Spartan football. We’ve heard the Pinstripe Bowl does a tremendous job putting on a great bowl experience for the student-athletes”
“We're excited about representing the Big Ten in the Pinstripe Bowl against a high quality ACC opponent in Wake Forest,” said Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio. “Playing in New York for a bowl game will be a new experience for our program, and it will be a really festive atmosphere to be right in the city during the holiday season.
“We’ll also have the chance to play in a unique venue in Yankee Stadium. Every bowl trip we’ve had has been a tremendous experience for our players, and I’ve heard only great things about how the Yankees organization runs this entire event.
“We’re anticipating a great trip to New York over the holidays. Our players, especially our seniors, will be motivated to play in this game and finish out the year with a winning record”
Wake Forest, under sixth-year Head Coach Dave Clawson, will play in a school-record fourth consecutive bowl game and are the only ACC team (and one of nine in the country) to win bowl games in each of the past three postseasons, pushing their all-time bowl mark to 9-4. With a 5-0 start to the 2019 season, the Demon Deacons (8-4, 4-4 ACC) secured their first AP top-25 ranking since 2008. Additionally, Wake swept all three of its “Big Four” in-state rivals (Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State) for the first time since 2007, which was also the last season in which the school won at least eight regular season games.
At 32.8 points per game (second in the ACC), the Demon Deacon offense is led by redshirt junior quarterback Jamie Newman, an All-ACC honorable mention selection who ranked second in the conference with 289.1 yards of total offense per game (244.8 passing, 44.3 rushing). Sophomore wide receiver Sage Surratt earned First-Team All-ACC honors after leading the conference with 111.2 receiving yards per game before suffering a season-ending injury in Wake’s ninth game. First-Team All-ACC kicker Nick Sciba, a sophomore, set a new NCAA record by making 34 consecutive field goals, including his first 23 attempts of 2019. Sciba was successful on 96.0 percent of his field goal tries (24-of-25), the highest mark in the nation (min. 20 attempts), and finished tied for fourth in field goals made.
Redshirt junior defensive end Carlos “Boogie” Basham Jr. led the ACC with 17 tackles-for-loss and finished third with 10 sacks to land on the All-ACC First Team. The senior cornerback duo of Amari Henderson (four interceptions) and Essang Bassey (Third-Team All-ACC) anchor a secondary that tied for second in the league with 13 interceptions.
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Ticket information: Pinstripe Bowl tickets are currently on sale at www.pinstripebowl.com, the official website of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, and www.ticketmaster.com. For up-to-the-moment information regarding the game, fans are also encouraged to follow the Bowl game’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts – @PinstripeBowl.