Michigan State vs. Alabama Bowl Pick

Cotton Bowl Michigan State vs. Alabama Picks & Predictions

Alabama is a double-digit favorite in tonight's 8:00PM ET Cotton Bowl matchup with Michigan State. Is 10 points too much to lay on the Crimson Tide?

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According to oddsmakers from online sports book Mybookie.ag, the Crimson Tide is a 10-point favorite over the Spartans in tonight's playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Alabama opened as an 8.5-point favorite before the number was bet up, while the total has gone from 49.5 points all the way down to 45.

Bettors have favored MSU to cover the spread ever since the opening number was posted. Our College Football Public Betting information shows that 65% of public bettors are currently backing the Spartans at the betting window, which isn't surprising given a) the amount of points involved in tonight's game and b) the fact that Michigan State has been a big public play all season.

The Play

If you think back over the years at the teams that have given Nick Saban's defense trouble, it's generally been either spread systems and/or mobile quarterbacks. Texas A&M (with coach Kevin Sumlin and athletic signal-caller Johnny Manziel), Auburn (Gus Malzahn and Nick Marshall), Ole Miss (Huge Freeze) and Ohio State (Urban Meyer) are examples of opponents that have had success versus 'Bama the past few years.

Granted, it's not that the Tide struggle against all spread systems. Opponents still need the talent to upend a team as deep and disciplined as 'Bama. But even Auburn, which was Malzahn's least-talented team of the past three seasons, was covering as a 14.5-point underdog in this year's Iron Bowl before Derrick Henry broke off a 25-yard touchdown run with 26 seconds left to give the Tide a front-door cover. The point is that spread systems can have a measure of success versus Saban's program.

Michigan State, with Connor Cook under center, does not run the spread. The Spartans run the offense that Saban prides himself on stopping. It doesn't matter how many formations or passing concepts that MSU throws at Alabama, or how adept Cook is at reading defenses. 'Bama will be prepared.

Ten points is a lot to lay against a team as well-coached and talented as Michigan State. But the Tide employs one of the best front-sevens in college football and eventually should be able to pound away at the Spartans' talented defensive front with Henry. It might take a full four quarters, but 'Bama should eventually pull away.

COTTON BOWL FREE PICK: ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE -10

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