Alabama jumped out to a lead in the first half of the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve in what’s shaping up to be a defensive slugfest.
The first quarter was all defense. MSU lost 5 yards rushing, but Alabama – which features Heisman running back Derrick Henry – only had 9 rushing yards.
The passing wasn’t that effective for either team, either. The Spartans only managed 40 total yards in the first quarter (one of those plays was a 28 yard pass) and the Crimson Tide only had 47.
MSU’s defense managed a sack that prompted an Alabama fumble, but Alabama managed to recover it.
The second quarter featured more yardage by each team – but both sides seemed to stall out as soon as they reached enemy territory and before they could move into field goal range.
But Alabama broke it open with 6 minutes left in the half. Quarterback Jake Coker launched a 50 yard bomb to Calvin Ridley that put the Crimson Tide at the 1. Henry walked it into the end zone two plays later.
Another 41 yard pass set up at 47 yard field goal with 1:25 left in the half to make the score 10-0.
MSU tried to make a late drive to get some points on the board. Connor Cook drove the Spartans to the red zone, but an interception at the 2 yard line with less than 30 seconds left in the half dashed those hopes.
Three sacks, along with a lackluster running game, had the Spartans end up with -9 rushing yards at the end of the first half. And MSU coach Mark Dantonio knows that has to change.
“We gotta run the ball more effectively,” he said during a halftime interview. “We gotta come up with some turnover and things gotta go our way a little bit.”
The winner of the Cotton Bowl will play Clemson for the national championship on January 11th. Clemson beat Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl to remain undefeated.
Stay tuned to 6 News on air and online for complete coverage after the game.