Final 4 Playoffs: Cotton Bowl Game Preview

By EFN Staff
Published: 12/31/2015

Michigan State Spartans (12-1) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1)

Bowl Game: Cotton Bowl (Playoff Semi-Final)
Kickoff Time: December 31, 8:00 PM
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

The Crimson Tide are the only one of the four College Football Playoff teams returning for the second year of the format, and for the second straight year, they will face a Big Ten opponent in the semi-finals. This year the opponent will be Michigan State, which staged an epic drive in the fourth quarter of the Big Ten title game to overtake Iowa and secure a spot in the playoff.

Players to watch

  • Michigan State wide receiver Aaron Burbridge led the Big Ten with 80 receptions totaling 1,219 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns.
  • Heisman winner Derrick Henry set Alabama single-season records of 1,986 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

Key Stats

  • The teams have met only once before, in the 2011 Citrus Bowl, with the Crimson Tide rolling to a 49-7 victory.
  • The Crimson Tide rank second in the FBS in total defense, allowing 258.2 yards per game.
  • The Spartans rank fourth in the FBS in turnover margin, at plus-16.
  • Michigan State will be the first Big Ten team to play in a Cotton Bowl Classic since Ohio State in 1987.
  • Spartans quarterback Connor Cook has thrown for 2,921 yards and 24 touchdowns against only five interceptions this season.
  • Michigan State is 6-1 this season in games decided by a touchdown or less, while Alabama is 1-1.


  • Michigan State fullback Trevon Pendleton is questionable with a leg injury.