The Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan State Spartans meet in the second national playoff game on New Year’s Eve in the Cotton Bowl and Alabama is a 10-point favorite and the total on the game is 47.
Thursday 12/31/2015 8:00 PM
Michigan State Spartans +10 -105
Vs Alabama Crimson Tide -10 -105
Over 47 -105
Under 47 -105
Betting odds provided by 5Dimes
Both teams have relied on their advantage at the line of scrimmage all season long and neither team is going to enjoy its typical advantage in this spot. The Tide gets a slight edge up front, but nothing like the normal edge they typically have.
Both teams have above average quarterbacks, although Michigan State’s Connor Cook is the better of the two. Cook’s completion percentage is the greatest, but he has nearly a 5-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio and turnovers are one thing the Spartans can’t afford against Alabama.
Michigan State doesn’t have anybody close to Derrick Henry in the backfield, but have managed to do pretty well for themselves on the ground with the trio of LJ Scott, Gerald Holmes and Madre London, as the three have combined for 1,714 yards and 22 touchdowns and 4.7 yards per carry.
Henry rushed for 1,966 yards and 23 touchdowns himself, but there is a big drop-off when you get to Kenyan Drake, so the rushing game is a bit closer than one might think.
Jake Coker isn’t much of a running threat when Alabama has the ball, but he does complete a high percentage of passes and only had eight interceptions on the year. His job is to not lose games and let the rest of the team take care of business, and he’s done a decent job in that aspect.
Defensively, both teams are solid and the Spartans shut down some pretty good rushing teams in Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan and held Oregon to 2.9 yards per carry. They did allow 279 yards to Air Force, although that is still more than 40 yards under Air Force’s average.
The Crimson Tide is even better against the rush, allowing just 74 yards per game and only twice did they allow teams to average more than 3.0 yards per carry.
The Tide gets the nod in pass defense, although the Spartans are better than average.
After their loss to Mississippi, Alabama has been on a roll, allowing more than 20 points just once in their last 10 games and they should be able to contain a Michigan State offense that needs to have a bit of success on the ground to open up the passing game.
But the Spartans are 6-1 as an underdog the past three seasons and have always managed to get up for big games, posting a 15-3 ATS record the past three seasons when they are playing a team that has a winning record.
Alabama is 15-7 ATS when taking on a team with a winning record the past three years, so both coaches have shown the ability to have their teams ready to play against good teams.
Both teams have shown the ability to protect the football and if turnovers can be kept to a minimum, this game could easily land under the total. Both teams are strong defensively and Alabama is likely to try and let Henry decide the outcome instead of Coker, so there should be plenty of rushing attempts and will take under 47.
The Pick - Under 47 (-105)
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