Friday, December 31, 2010

Alabama - Michigan State Capitol One Bowl Preview and Prediction

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban faces his old team the Spartans who are looking to add a 12th win to their record season.

When: Jan 1 1PM ET
Where: Citrus Bowl, FL (the old bowl name oddly enough)
Line: Alab -9.5 (open -10.5)

Here are three areas I always look at when making bowl picks.

Who Has The Better Team?
Despite Michigan State having an 11-1 record I have to go with Alabama because of the schedule they played.  The Tide played the 17th toughest schedule while the Spartans played the 65th best;  That schedule powered 'Bama to a number five Sagarin ranking.  Michigan State ranks 20th.

Despite losing nearly every starter from last year, the defense played very well again this season giving up only 14 points per game and less than 300 yards.  I see the offenses being about equal with both posting over 400 yards per game.
Edge: Alabama

Which Coach Will Have His Team Better Prepared?
Regarded as one of the best game planners in college football, Nick Saban is just 6-6 in bowl games.

Mark Dantonio has delivered the best season in Spartan history, but is just 1-3 in bowls overall and 0-3 at Michigan State having been an underdog all three times.
Edge: Slight Alabama

Which Team Will Be More Motivated?
I go back to that Sugar Bowl and have some worries about the Tide's motivation here. But this situation is different in that they are not coming directly off a loss to end their championship hopes.  Plus, Saban respects the Michigan State program having coached there.  I don't think he ever respected Utah.

Nobody gave Sparty much of a chance at the beginning of the season and the players turned that into a share of the Big 10 title with just one loss.  I am sure they feel slighted again as a double digit underdog to a three loss team.
Edge: Slight Michigan State

Prediction
I think Alabama's talent edge will be the difference here especially on defense though Michigan State makes it a game until late.

Alabama 34 Michigan State 24
Confidence: 26

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