Michigan State vs Alabama odds, Cotton Bowl 2015: Spartans betting underdog vs. Tide

Michigan State vs Alabama: The Michigan State and Alabama meet in the second game of the College Football Playoff semifinals on New Year’s Eve with the Tide big favorites.e Michigan State Spartans are 16-1 straight up and 9-7-1 against the spread over their last 17 games. The Spartans will be looking for a big upset this New Year’s Eve facing off against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the second College Football Playoff semifinal game.

Michigan State vs Alabama

Michigan State is a 9.5-point betting underdog in the Cotton Bowl according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. In their last nine bowl appearances, the Spartans are just 2-7 SU.

After going 0-6 ATS through a sloppy 6-0 SU start, the Michigan State Spartans turned their season around with one big play. Catapulted by a road win over Michigan due to a punt block returned for touchdown on the final play of the game, the Spartans ended the season on a 6-1 SU and 5-1-1 ATS run, including a 17-14 road win over Ohio State as a 14.5-point underdog and a 16-13 win over Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Michigan State’s defense allowed only 10 points per game over the last four games of the season.

The Spartans have excelled in the underdog role in recent seasons. Michigan State is 9-4 SU and 11-1-1 ATS in its last 13 games as the betting underdog per the OddsShark College Football Database.

Michigan State Spartans vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

When: Thursday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET

Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Betting Line / Total: Alabama -9.5 / 46.5 Points

Spartans vs. Crimson Tide OddsShark Matchup Report

Alabama’s 43-37 home loss to Ole Miss in the team’s third game of the season put the Crimson Tide in a big hole early, but they climbed out of that hole in dominant fashion. The Crimson Tide ended the regular season on a 10-0 SU and 6-4 ATS run, beating their opponents by an average of 21.6 points along the way.

Derrick Henry ran away with the Heisman Trophy race, rushing for 1,986 yards and 23 touchdowns this season. Alabama is 5-1 SU and ATS in its last six games against Big Ten opponents.

Thursday night’s total is set at 46.5 points. The OVER is 4-0 in Alabama’s last four December games and 8-1 in Alabama’s last nine bowl games.

While the Crimson Tide may be the superior team, Michigan State has played way too well on defense this season and plays too well as an underdog to be written off. Take the 9.5 points on the Spartans to keep it close in the Cotton Bowl.

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Cotton Bowl 2015: Underrated Stars to Watch, Picks in Michigan State vs. Alabama

Cotton Bowl 2015,Michigan State vs Alabama Michigan State: and Alabama earned their spots in the College Football Playoff with some clutch efforts down the stretch. The Cotton Bowl counterparts both found themselves on the edge of elimination before picking up some marquee victories to fight back into the top four.

The Spartans edged Ohio State and Iowa after an early November loss to Nebraska. The Crimson Tide were on the brink for even longer. They dropped their third game to Ole Miss and then responded with five wins over ranked opponents the rest of the way.

Now the teams will square off for a berth in the national title game. Let’s check out all of the important information for the clash, followed by a closer look at some players to watch and a game prediction.

Michigan State vs Alabama

Cotton Bowl Details

Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

When: Thursday, Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. ET

Watch: ESPN

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Tickets: ScoreBig.com

Underrated Players to Watch
Michigan State: WR R.J. Shelton

Shelton is the most versatile weapon on the Spartans offense. He ranks third in receiving yards and fourth in rushing yards. He’ll surely be moved around the formation quite a bit to give the Alabama defense some unique looks on New Year’s Eve.

The Tide have surely poured a lot of time and effort into figuring out ways to slow down Aaron Burbridge. Connor Cook’s favorite target enters the playoffs with 80 grabs for over 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns. Preventing him from taking over the game is paramount.

‘Bama will probably shift extra defenders in that direction. It could also mean Michigan State designs some plays to get Shelton into space on the opposite side. Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press noted the junior playmaker understands the challenge that lies ahead.

“Their secondary is good, their (front seven) is unreal,” Shelton said. “They’re substituting 10 D-linemen, which is unreal.”

Shelton is not a high-volume player. He’s probably only going to get around five touches on offense and perhaps a few on special teams. But he’s the type of player that can change the complexion of the game by turning a few of those into big plays against a strong defense.

Alabama: DB Eddie Jackson

The Crimson Tide gave up 43 points in that aforementioned loss to Ole Miss early in the season. Ranked teams only averaged 14 points against them from that point forward. The improved play on defense is what truly sparked the run into the playoffs.

Jackson is a major part of that success. The converted cornerback is now an eraser at safety. He’s racked up 40 total tackles, seven passes defended, five interceptions and three tackles for loss. That wide-ranging impact makes him one of the team’s most valuable players.

Asking him, along with fellow corner Geno Matias-Smith, to make the change to safety came with risk. It’s not an easy switch because the amount of responsibly skyrockets. It’s something he talked about with Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com.

“Being from corner, you just worry about your man,” Jackson said. “Being a safety, you have to make calls for the whole secondary, linebackers and make sure we’re in formation and all the shifts and changes. We just had to focus in because you’re playing a big role, like a quarterback on defense.”

The decision could have backfired. Instead, the Crimson Tide now have two safeties covering a lot of ground and making up for errors elsewhere on defense. Expect Jackson to make his presence felt early and often against the Spartans.

Game Prediction

The only guarantee when the whistle finally blows to start Michigan State against Alabama is that it’s going to be a physical battle. Winning at the line of scrimmage is going to set the tone.

Josh Slagter of MLive Sports spotlighted the battle between Alabama’s rushing attack, led by Derrick Henry, and Michigan State’s formidable front:So it’s a game that should appeal to old-school fans. As for who’s going to win, the numbers favor the Crimson Tide. They are sizable 9.5-point favorites (via Odds Shark) and FiveThirtyEight gives them a 68 percent chance to advance to the title game.

It likely won’t be as easy as that makes it sound, though. Expect a four-quarter grind that isn’t decided until the final minutes. The Spartans have enough playmakers to pull off the upset, but the Tide are the better overall team and should find a way to win a one-score game.

Pick: Alabama 28, Michigan State 20

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Michigan State vs Alabama Cotton Bowl Preview, TV Schedule, Prediction

Michigan State vs. Alabama: Cotton Bowl Preview, TV Schedule, Prediction

TV Schedule: Thursday, Dec. 31, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN3/ESPN

Stadium: AT&T Stadium

Line: Alabama (-9.5)

Many people might be wondering how the line is in the Alabama Crimson Tide‘s favor by so much. Well, here are a few reasons for that one: (1) Derrick Henry (aka Mr. Heisman) plays for Alabama. (2) The Crimson Tide have a very, very stingy defense. (3) It’s Alabama — it always gets the line.

Michigan State vs Alabama

Michigan State vs Alabama

Nonetheless, both teams have only lost one game apiece in 2015, and both teams have their eyes on the ultimate prize, which is the national championship.

Alabama made it here by knocking off the Florida Gators in the SEC championship game. As for the Michigan State Spartans, they took down the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten championship.

READ: 15 Bold Predictions For Bowl Season

The Spartans’ one loss came against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and there are still probably plenty of people out there wondering what happened in that one. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide’s lone loss came against the Ole Miss Rebels, which wouldn’t be all that surprising if it didn’t come at home for Nick Saban & Co.

Alabama’s three most notable wins: Georgia, LSU, Florida.

Michigan State’s three most notable wins: Oregon, Ohio State, Iowa.

Of course, there are some great wins being left out of the conversation for both teams, which proves why these two were so worthy of a spot in the College Football Playoff.

All eyes will be on Connor Cook and Henry, but this clash will be filled with plenty of talent outside of those two.

The winner will partake in the national championship.

Time to bring things up a notch or two in terms of pure entertainment.

PREDICTION: Spartans 20, Crimson Tide 28

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