Nick Saban is the top coach in all of college football. His three national championships at Alabama make his case. But a decade earlier Saban was was the coach at Michigan State and Mark Dantonio, MSU’s current coach, was one of his assistants.
”Mark has exceeded expectations of all of us in terms of what he’s done at Michigan State and certainly done a better job than I ever did there,” Saban said Sunday.
”We’re going to play on edge,” Dantonio said.
Now the two come full circle when the third-ranked Spartans face the second-ranked Crimson Tide in the Cotton Bowl to decide who goes on to the College Football Playoff Finals this season. The game kicks off on ESPN at 8:00 pm ET on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2015 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The other semi-final features No. 1 Clemson facing No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. The two semi winners will Jan. 11 in Glendale, Ariz to crown the National Champ.
A Closer Look How To Bet The Michigan State Spartans V Alabama Crimson Tide Cotton Bowl Odds
What: No. 3 Michigan State Spartans (12-1) at No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1)
When: Thursday, December 31, 2015
Kickoff: 8:00 PM ET
Where: Arlington, TX
Stadium: AT&T Stadium
Spread: Alabama -9.5
Moneyline: Michigan State +285 vs Alabama -345
Game Total: 49
Stream: Watch ESPN
Listen: Michigan State vs Alabama
Michigan State has quickly become a big +9 point underdog versus Alabama on Dec. 31. The Spartans opened as a +8.5 point underdog once the seeds in the College Football Playoff were established. Sparty is now a +9 point dog. The Over/Under is currently at 49 points. Expect Michigan State to be a big underdog on the moneyline.
Bet The #3 Michigan State Spartans To Win The Cotton Bowl At +9 Because…
Michigan State didn’t look all that great when beating Iowa 16 to 13 in the Big Ten Championship. The Spartans could only muster a total of 365 total yards. The defense did a good job but got burned on a long Iowa pass that went for a touchdown in the second half.
On paper, Michigan State appears to be the weakest of the CFP Final Four. The Spartans’ strength of record is fourth. Their offensive efficiency is twenty-fifth. They’re ranked seventeenth in defensive efficiency. The Spartans beat 4 Top 40 FPI teams this season.
“We wanted to come back and win a championship,” QB Conner Cook, who played with a sore shoulder and appeared to get hurt a couple of times during the game, said. “It’s awesome, man.”
Bet The #2 Alabama Crimson Tide To Win The Cotton Bowl At -9 Because…
Alabama is probably the best team in the nation. Football handicappers can argue all that they want about Alabama’s credentials. It won’t do any good. Alabama should probably be ranked number one based on their credentials.
Alabama & MSU played once: 2011, 49-7, Crimson Tide. - Worst bowl loss for Spartans - 2nd-largest bowl win for Bama pic.twitter.com/tYSIrR7xNh
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 6, 2015
The Crimson Tide is ranked second in strength of record, strength of schedule and third in game control. The Tide is ranked first in defensive efficiency. Although the Tide beat an overrated Florida team in the SEC Championship, the Tide defense held the Gators to 180 total yards. Florida rushed for 15 yards from 21 carries.
“As tight as this group is and how hard we play together and how we have each other’s backs, I’m real confident in this team,” quarterback Jake Coker said. “I think we can do whatever we want to do, based on how we practice and prepare. It’s going to be an exciting playoff.”
Cotton Bowl Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
Michigan State has sort of been surviving. Ohio State lost to Michigan State. Michigan State didn’t beat them. The fluky play at the end of the game versus Michigan led to that win. Iowa had the game under control until the final drive. Alabama won’t let Michigan State get it going on offense. The Tide should roll in this first semi-final. Alabama remembers losing last season to Ohio State in the semis. Alabama’s defense allows 74 rushing yards per game on average. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on Michigan State QB Connor Cook.