The Cotton Bowl Classic can be dated back New Year’s Day in 1937 and this year it will for the first time in its long storied history it will serve as the stage for a semifinals game in the College Football Playoff. Last season, in the first year of the College Football Playoff era, the Cotton Bowl was one of the six heavyweight New Year’s Day games, but did not host a semifinal.
This season that changes. The Goodyear Cotton Bowl is one of two games that will play host to the two college football playoff semi final games. It will be the third-ranked Michigan State Spartans facing the second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in a Cotton Bowl tilt that will pitt Bama head-coach Nick Saban against his old program. The winner of the game will face the winner of the winner of the Orange Bowl.
A Closer Look At The #3 Michigan State Spartans #2 Alabama Crimson Tide Odds
The college football Goodyear Cotton Bowl bettting odds opened with Alabama as a 8.5-point favorites. The line has drifted up to Bama at -9.5. Depending on the way the betting public continues to bet, by kick-off, the Crimson Tide might be a double-digit favorite. If you are betting the game straight up, Michigan State pays 285 on 100 while Bama pays 100 on 345.
What: Goodyear Cotton Bowl
Who: 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
Bet The #3 Michigan State Spartans +9.5 Because…
The Spartans have a balanced offense. Michigan State can either run the football or pass the football. The Spartans average 161.5 rushing yards per game. They pass for 235.3 yards per game. In some games, QB Connor Cook and WR Aaron Burbridge make up the most dynamic QB/WR combo in all of college football. In other games, the Spartans prefer to control time of possession by relying on their very good defense and rushing the football. Either way, the offense is effective. Michigan State may have the most pro-like offense in the nation.
”Everything’s going sort of according to plan,” coach Mark Dantonio said. ”We’re not fading away, we’re getting better as we move forward. The challenges are getting bigger and I think it’s important we understand it’s how we handle success. . We’ve got to get ourselves ready to play a tough 2015 schedule.”
Bet The #2 Alabama Crimson Tide -9.5 Because…
Alabama’s defense is impenetrable. The Crimson Tide’s defense allows a ridiculously low 74.5 rushing yards per game. LSU, who has one of the top offensive lines in the country, rushed for 54 yards on 26 carries. That’s a 2.1 per carry average. Florida rushed for .7 yards per carry when going for 15 yards on 21 carries. When Alabama is able to stop the rush with their defensive line and linebackers, they are able to play zone coverage. That gives their suspect secondary a chance to use its athleticism instead of having to guard wide receivers one on one.
“It’s certainly going to be a difficult game. A tough game," coach Nick Saban said. "And I think you have to prepare for that and have the right mindset in terms of what your expectation is when the game starts.”
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
This should be a much closer matchup than the spread indicates. Both Michigan State and Alabama have good defenses. Both teams are expertly coached. Both teams are able to change how they play on offense and defense on the fly. The difference will be the pressure that Alabama’s defensive line gets on Spartan QB Cook by rushing only 4 players. If Alabama linebackers Reggie Ragland and Reuben Foster are able to roam free, the Crimson Tide will pull out a tough win on Dec. 31.
Their previous matchup was a win by Alabama by a 49-7 score over Michigan State. (Jan. 1, 2011, Capital One Bowl, only previous meeting)
My final score prediction is Alabama 27, Michigan State 21.