In the second edition of the college football playoff on New Years Eve, Michigan State and Alabama meet for the right to go to the National Championship. I’m not sure who the opponent will be, but we know it will be either Oklahoma or Clemson. The odds say Oklahoma will be dancing in the National Championship; however, we’ll see what Deshaun Watson has to say about that. This is a different style of football than the Orange Bowl. The Cotton Bowl is going to feature plenty of old school smash mouth football. If you like that kind of football then this will be the game for you. Expect Alabama to line up and pound the ball. The same goes for Michigan State. Nick Saban will be facing his former team in this one. For those of you old enough to remember, Saban was the head coach at Michigan State from 1995-1999, carving out a name for himself which eventually led to his time with LSU and Alabama. I’ll leave out his time in the NFL at Miami.
Alabama was in this spot last season, same scenario, against the same conference. Instead of Ohio State, the Crimson Tide will need to acclimate themselves with the Michigan State Spartans. Last year Alabama was stymied by Ohio State and the rest is history. It almost felt like everyone was expecting Bama to start to play shutdown football and clamp down. It didn’t happen, they couldn’t keep up and the Buckeyes went on for a 42-35 final score.
Alabama will try and make sure that a repeat does not happen this season. Michigan State is a dark horse, I think the biggest underdog in the final 4 goes to the Spartans. I suspect they would be underdogs to Oklahoma and Clemson as well. The quarterbacks are going to have to make big plays in this game, because both defenses will be zoning in on the ground game. There are going to be opportunities in single coverage for passes to be made. Who is going to step up, Jake Coker or Connor Cook? Is the BIG 10 or SEC going to be represented in the National Championship? I provide my thoughts below.
Michigan State Spartans vs. Alabama Crimson Tide Cotton Bowl Betting Odds:
Michigan State +10(-110)
vs. Alabama -10(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Michigan State vs. Alabama Pick:
This is going to be a battle of attrition. It’s going to be like a boxing match, whoever can survive the longest and not get beat down is going to emerge victorious. The team up front in the trenches that can keep sustaining a push will outlast the other. By the spread in this game, you’d have to think that Alabama is going to run away with the Cotton Bowl, and head to the National Championship. The matchup, though, I think might tell a different story. The Crimson Tide are averaging 34 points per game and rushing for 208 yards a game. The Spartans are scoring 32 per game.
The Alabama strength is going right up against the Spartan’s strength, the rush defense. Note that Michigan State is allowing 113 yards per game against the run, which is very good. You also need to take into consideration the conference that Michigan State played in. They played teams all season that want to pound the football on the ground.
Michigan State likes to run the football as well, averaging 161 yards per game. Connor Cook as he gets ready for the NFL Draft, has passed for 24 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. He looked crisp and in control on that touchdown winning drive to beat Iowa in the BIG 10 Championship. The Spartans have the edge at quarterback in this game. Coker enters with 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Both quarterbacks are going to need to make plays. I have to lean with the quarterback that is catching 10 points in this game. Heavy money will come in on Alabama as game time approaches, but I think this will stay within 10 points. Bama should win, but the Spartans cover in the Cotton Bowl.
PICK: SPARTANS +10 (-110)