By: Colton Wood
On New Years Eve, there are festivities across the country with people soaking in the last few hours of the year with friends and family. When the clock hits 12:00, the party goers cheer and celebrate the new year. For Spartan fans, there was none of that. The Cotton Bowl had just concluded and resulted in a stunning 38-0 victory for the Alabama Crimson Tide over Michigan State.
Leading into this game, Michigan State’s secondary was in question and was the one of the major reasons most analysts chose the Tide to win. They gave up big plays throughout the season and Alabama hoped to be another team to attack their weak secondary. After a scoreless first quarter, Alabama quarterback Jake Coker decided to test the Spartans’ secondary. It led to a 50 yard reception by Calvin Ridley who had 138 receiving yards and two touchdowns in their victory. They managed to cap off their drive with a Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, one yard rush for a touchdown.
After a series of failed drives, the Spartans, led by quarterback Connor Cook, got the ball back with just over a minute left in the first half. Cook led them down the field and were just yards away from cutting at Alabama’s 10-0 lead when a failed fade play turned into an interception by Alabama. This was likely the biggest play of the game because it seemed like it killed any momentum and confidence MSU had.
Throughout the entire game, Alabama’s defensive front proved they were stronger than the Spartans’ running game. Alabama held the Spartans to just -9 yards heading into halftime and ended up with 29 yards at the end of the game.
In their air, Cook threw for 210 yards and two interceptions. He had a total quarterback rating of 19.6.
The second half didn’t get any better for Michigan State. Their defense continued to allow big plays in the air and created big holes for Alabama’s running backs. When they had the ball on offense, they still found problems getting in the redzone. On two drives, MSU was in field goal range on fourth down, but instead of attempting to kick a field goal and end the shutout, they tried to go for the fourth down conversion. They were unsuccessful and turned the ball over on downs both times.
With :31 seconds left in the game, Dillion Lee intercepted Connor Cook and sealed the victory for Alabama. They will now play Clemson on January 11th for a chance to win their 16th national title.
(Photo Credit: Daniel Mears/Detroit News)