Michigan State Spartans (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (9-3, 5-3 SEC)
Capital One Bowl
January 1 - 1:00 pm - ESPN
$4,250,000 payout per team
The 2011 installment of the Capital One Bowl will pit the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide against the Michigan State Spartans. Formerly the Citrus Bowl, the Capital One Bowl is one of the most prestigious non-BCS bowl games and is played on New Year’s Day. Alabama enters the game as the fourth place team from the SEC, with a 9-3 overall record. Michigan State finished the year in a three way tie atop the Big Ten with Ohio State and Wisconsin, each team holding matching 11-1 records.
Last year's Capital One Bowl was 19-17 victory for the Penn State Nittany Lions against the LSU Tigers. This year's matchup features two of college football's storied programs though the Spartans and Crimson Tide have never faced off on the gridiron.
While Alabama has struggled to regain the dominant form of last season’s title team, the Crimson Tide defense is as terrifying as ever. This unit is the fifth ranked defense in the country allowing a paltry 14 points per game. Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins will have his work cut out for him and it will be hard to move the football. However, if the Spartan defense can hold a struggling Alabama offense in check, Cousins could put just enough points on the board to win.
- SBN Pittsburgh analysis by Aaron Hawley
SBN PITTSBURGH BOLD PREDICTION: Michigan State 17, Alabama 16
Alabama's quest for a second straight national championship ended back in November, but the Crimson Tide can still win 10 games for the third straight season when they take on Michigan State. Alabama coach Nick Saban was the Spartans' head coach before going to LSU, and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is a former assistant under Saban. -- Chris Low