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2011 Capital One Bowl: Crimson Tide vs. Spartans Predictions

Capital One Bowl: #16 Alabama vs. #9 Michigan State Preview

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Crimson Tide vs. Spartans Handicapping Matchup

Date/Time: Saturday, Jan. 1 2011, 1 pm EST
Venue: Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando FL
Alabama Crimson Tide (9-3) vs. Michigan State Spartans (11-1) Betting Lines from MySportsbook.com
MoneyLine: Alabama -370, Michigan State +305
NCAA Betting Favorite: Alabama (-10) Michigan State (+10)
Over/Under: 52
Bet now @ MySportsbook.com –>


Considering how quickly head coach Nick Saban restored the Tide to national prominence, it has been a disappointing season in Tuscaloosa. Three losses; the Tide’s season-ending 28-27 loss to loathed in-state rival Auburn – after leading in commanding fashion at half – particularly stung. Hence, it looks like the pre-conditions are in place for this talented squad to stomp all over a Big Ten competitor that “got lucky.” The Spartans camp surely doesn’t view it that way, but it will likely be the pervading opinion in college ball unless MSU can prove otherwise.

Alabama has remarkable talent virtually all over the field, even after heavy losses to the NFL Draft. Top wide receiver Julio Jones is coming off a huge game against Auburn and don’t overlook supplementary threat, junior Marquis Maze, who can hit you with a big play. Tide pivot Greg McElroy is battle-tested and savvy, everyone knows about ’Bama’s duo of NFL first-round talent at tailback (Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson) and the defense has size, speed and aggression.

Still, the Crimson Tide have three losses this season, and have looked hapless at times. It’s not enough to field a great team if they don’t show up consistently. Surely the Spartans are banking on this 2010 trend and will aim to exploit some facet of a talented SEC outfit.

Michigan State

As deflating a campaign as it has been for Alabama, it’s been fantastic for the boys from East Lansing. The Spartans have done enough of everything you need to be successful. State has only one loss on the ledger in 2010, but its two main tests this season, against Wisconsin and Iowa, were a mixed bag. MSU beat the Badgers (who are definitely one of the top teams in the nation) by 10 points, but then got wiped 37-6 by Iowa on Oct. 30.

The Iowa loss made the Spartans look a little vulnerable, but they’ve rebounded well and closed out the schedule with victories. Michigan State’s ground game has looked downright Alabama-like this season, thanks to Edwin Baker (1,187 yards, 13 TDs) and freshman Le’Veon Bell (592 yards, 8 scores). Spartans’ pivot Kirk Cousins has shown the kind of grace under fire that McElroy made his calling card in 2009, and even the defense has been Tide-esque; ’Bama ranks in the top 10 in FBS, but State sits at a respectable 26th(giving up only 20 points per).

The knock on State, of course, is that they’ve had a fairly powder-puff schedule (Michigan and Penn State both had ho-hum seasons) while Alabama deals with an SEC gauntlet. Big Ten purists everywhere will be cheering for MSU in this match-up precisely to silence the raving SEC fans. The reality is that Michigan State had a wonderful season, but racking up yards on Alabama is a lot different than tearing up Purdue or Minnesota. Maybe the Spartans can continue to ride the golden horseshoe, but the likelihood is they will learn this lesson the hard way on New Year’s Day.

The Pick

If Michigan State can have as much success with its ground game in the bowl, this could turn out to be a classic. The smart money is on Alabama’s “D” being water-tight. This is the best Michigan State team in a long time, no doubt, but the gulf in talent between the two programs is still noticeable. I would take the under in this one, but Alabama certainly has the horses to pull away.

Alabama vs. Michigan State Score Prediction: Alabama 28 Michigan State 17

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James has been naming every player on the EA Sports video game rosters for half a decade now, he’s finally putting his knowledge to better use writing for us here at CappersPicks.com. Your comments are welcome below…Give Us Your Take!