Preview: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

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Matt Mika

ARLINGTON – Tonight the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide and the No. 3 Michigan State Spartans square off in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. It will be the second time in as many years the Spartans will play in the Cotton Bowl.

Last season the Spartans capped off a 20-point comeback to defeat the No. 4 Baylor Bears, 42-41.

Michigan State will look to continue their school-record consecutive bowl-winning streak to five games with a win over the Crimson Tide.

A victory will be a challenge – one the team is looking forward to.

“We like having a chip on our shoulder. And, if people are going to doubt us, we are going to prove them wrong,” quarterback Connor Cook said.

It seems no matter what Michigan State accomplishes, the Spartans will never be on “the same level” as the rest of the elite teams in the country. Why is this the case? It is fantastic dispute for experts to chew over.

Nevertheless, head coach Mark Dantonio does an excellent job having his team excel in these situations, but never tells his team they are the underdog.

“You are only an underdog if you think you are an underdog. We have never played that card. We have always gone into things saying, ‘We got a chance to win a football game.’ I think that’s still the case,” Dantonio said.

To many however, the Spartans are colossal underdogs.

“We are the obvious underdog, and we’re going to embrace it,” Cook said.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is 8-0 against former assistant coaches and looks to extend that streak tonight with a win over Dantonio.

The last time these two met was the 2011 Capital One Bowl. A loss all Spartans – fans, players, and coaches alike – would like to forget. Alabama punished the Spartans 49-7.

However – this is a new Michigan State team, and not to mention a different Crimson Tide team as well.

During that 2011 victory for Alabama, the Tide scored seven touchdowns. Three of the five players to score were drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft – Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Julio Jones.

It was inevitable the Tide would stomp through Michigan State – especially with the talent Saban had in his arsenal. This is a new year, and a completely different team in the green and white. A team ready to take on Goliath.

Kickoff from AT&T Stadium is set for 8 p.m. ET.