The #2 Alabama Crimson Tide heard all year long from their critics about how they were "overrated" all year long due to their SEC affiliation. They responded with exacting force in the Cotton Bowl, annihilating the #3 Michigan State Spartans in every facet of a 38-0 College Football Playoff semifinal rout.
With the win, the Tide (13-1) move on to the National Championship Game in Glendale, Arizona on January 11th and a date with the #1 Clemson Tigers. If they can get past that hump, it'll be their fourth title under Nick Saban over the span of seven seasons.
Michigan State's (12-2) running game was completely suffocated by Alabama's all-world front seven all night long, barely getting into positive yardage in the third quarter. They finished with just 29 yards on the ground -- a startlingly bad performance for a Spartans team that leaned on the run game to open up receivers for Connor Cook all year long.
Cook wasn't much better than his running backs, as the one-time Heisman candidate went just 19-of-39 for 210 yards and two interceptions as the Tide dropped back five or so in coverage with the Spartans down big late. His pick was thrown to Cyrus Jones, who also added a punt return for a touchdown on Thursday night. He is the only FBS player in the past 20 years to record an INT and a punt return for a TD in the same bowl game.
As for the offense, the Spartans' defense was able to key in on Heisman winner Derrick Henry who rushed for just 75 yards on 20 carries (albeit with two touchdowns). That didn't matter, as QB Jacob Coker had the game of his life.
Coker went 25-of-30 for a career-high 286 yards and two touchdowns, including two huge 50-yard connections with WR Calvin Ridley. Ridley finished with 138 yards and two touchdowns on eight catches. It was a breathtaking performance for a passing game that has largely been Alabama's only real Achilles heel in 2015, and a warning sign to Clemson about how complete this Bama team really is.
All in all, Alabama's offense nearly doubled Michigan State's yardage output (440-239) as offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin turned the Crimson Tide's gameplan on its head by stretching the Michigan State secondary vertically. They outscored MSU 28-0 in a feverish second half.
Alabama is now 1-1 in their two College Football Playoff games, with last year's 42-35 Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State factored in. They go on to face a #1 Clemson team which is 14-0 for the first time in its history after a 37-17 shellacking of #4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. The Tigers have a chance to become the first 15-0 team in NCAA history.
As for Michigan State, they head home still searching for their first national championship in five decades.Back to the Alabama Crimson Tide Newsfeed