Free 2015 Cotton Bowl Total Prediction: Crimson Tide vs Spartans Odds
College football betting on the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic sees the Alabama Crimson Tide taking on the Michigan State Spartans Thursday December 31st at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas. Cappers Picks provides complimentary handicapping picks all NCAA football season long so stay tuned for more FREE college football predictions.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) vs. Michigan State Spartans (12-1)
Date: Thursday, December 31st
Time: 8 PM
Venue: AT&T Stadium, Arlington Texas
NCAA Football Spread: Alabama -9.5
NCAA Betting Total: 47
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One leg of the College Football Playoff Semifinal occurs in The House That Jerry Built, on New Year’s Eve in north Texas. It features the best the SEC has to offer – perennial powerhouse Alabama – versus Big Ten’s elite, but perhaps not the team people expected. Michigan State will look to keep defying people’s expectations to book a trip to the title game.
Both teams have one loss, though that is a far greater accomplishment in the SEC than it is in the recovering, but still somewhat talent-poor Big Ten. Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh can’t re-invent the wheel overnight, after all. Regardless, it should be an entertaining match-up; a big game on an ostentatiously big stage.
Nick Saban just doesn’t quit. As soon as one wave of future NFLers graduate or move onto the pros (more the latter, naturally) there is another crop to take their place.
‘Bama has a front seven on defense that could rival some crappier NFL teams, led by A’Shawn Robinson, a junior coming home to play this bowl game (Robinson is from nearby Fort Worth) who has NFL written all over him. Dalvin Tomlinson is another junior that dictates the tone up front.
If an opponent gets through those two monsters, they have to contend with LB Reggie Ragland, one of the nation’s elite at his position. All this results in the third stoutest defense in America (yielding only about two TDs per game).
All the talk about a dynamic defensive line, and we haven’t yet mentioned the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, RB Derrick Henry. The 6”3, 242-lb junior came very close to eclipsing the elusive 2,000-yard rushing mark this year (1,986) and added 23 TDs for good measure, on his mind-boggling 339 attempts.
Clearly, almost the entire Tide offense funnelled through Henry. Starting QB Jake Coker is solid, if unspectacular, though it helps throwing to electric WR Calvin Ridley.
The key to Alabama’s formula of having a big, bullying offensive and defensive line and a running game, is that it affects every facet of football.
The Tide can control the clock, which keeps an athletic defense fresher, and gives a rather pedestrian talent like Coker more confidence, as he stays upright. When the Tide are on defense, snuffing out the run and pressuring the opponent’s QB are unknowably helpful for morale. It will certainly be a significant challenge for the Spartans.
The Spartans have always been happy to embrace the underdog label, even though there isn’t much about their play in recent years that suggests they are one. MSU’s only slip-up was by a single point to Nebraska, and State have simply gone 36-4 in its past three seasons under deified head coach Mark Dantonio.
Michigan State doesn’t really do anything remarkably well, but it answers the bell when it matters and that might be enough for a national championship.
The Spartans come up huge in important conference games, as proven with a 27-23 win over in-state nemesis Michigan, a 17-14 victory over Big Ten favorite Ohio State and a three-point win over then-unbeaten Iowa.
MSU just seems to have the clutch gene, as vague and subjective as that is. It helps having veteran QB Connor Cook, whose nearly 3,000 yards passing and 24-5 TD/INT ratio shows he is unflappable in the face of adversity.
Despite losing excellent RB Jeremy Langford in the offseason to the NFL, State keeps a functional offense going with RB L.J. Scott and WR Aaron Burbridge.
Alabama may have superior talent, but you can bet that MSU will not go quietly into the night.
A key to the game is undoubtedly Michigan State’s offensive line. They will be counted upon to try and contain beasts like Robinson, Tomlinson and D.J. Pettway. There will be a lot on junior OT Jack Conklin’s plate.
No one has truly contained Henry on the ground, so the Spartans’ “D” has to find a way to limit the damage he will inflict on the Big Ten representatives.
If they can’t, Henry and Tide will easily be galloping to the FBS Championship Game.
NCAA Football Handicapping Trends
- Spartans are 5-7-1 ATS in their last 13 games overall.
- Spartans are 2-0 when registered as the underdog.
- Spartans are 2-3-1 ATS when away from East Lansing.
- Crimson Tide are 7-6 ATS in their last 13 games overall.
- Crimson Tide are 6-6 ATS when favorited.
Free Cotton Bowl NCAA Football Prediction
In what could be a scrappy game, Alabama has more of the elements to win in that style of game. It’s a much different gameplan with elite WR Amari Cooper now tearing it up for the Oakland Raiders, but it’s a style that wears out an opponent and dictates the terms. Alabama is favorited in this contest for good reason.
4* Free NCAA Over/Under Betting Pick: Under
Look for Alabama to come out successful in what I think will be a closer game than most project.
2015 Cotton Bowl Free Score Prediction: Alabama 21- Michigan State 16
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