It was a disappointing end to one amazing season.
A (disputed) one-loss regular season, which included a miracle win over in-state rival Michigan, led to a top 3 ranking and a spot in the National Championship Playoff.
But the Spartans fell one game short of the championship itself.
They lost to Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. The Crimson Tide go on to face Clemson in the championship game on January 11th. The Spartans head back home.
Down 10-0 at the half, Alabama rolled to a touchdown with their opening drive of the second half and kept their foot on the pedal.
A long bomb and a punt return for a touchdown added to the Spartans woes. It was 31-0 by the end of the third quarter.
The final score: Alabama 38, MSU 0.
Alabama’s defense stifled MSU – especially against the run. The Spartans had -9 yards rushing at the end of the first half (a combination of poor rushing and several sacks). Several passes from Connor Cook either got dropped or sailed over the heads of MSU’s receivers.
The closest MSU got to a touchdown was at the end of the first half. The Spartans made a drive into the red zone, but Cook got picked off at the 2 yard line to end their scoring hopes. And instead of opting for a field goal late in the game, MSU went for a first down on 4th and 2 but failed to convert.
The Spartans lost to their former coach for the second time. Nick Saban led Alabama to a 49-7 win over MSU in the Capital One Bowl on January 1st, 2011.
The Spartans still end the season as Big Ten champions. They beat the then-7th ranked Oregon in a big, early season home game – and foes like Michigan and Ohio State on the road before beating the 4th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes in the thrilling conference championship game.