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Dueling column: Why MSU will defeat Alabama in the CFP

December 31, 2015
<p>Matthew Argillander</p>

Matthew Argillander

Photo by Alice Kole | The State News

DALLAS — Many Alabama fans seem pleased to have drawn MSU as their opponent in the semifinals of the College Football Playoff, I've seen it described as "the perfect matchup" by some

In a way this is also the perfect matchup for the Spartans, not necessarily the easiest matchup— but without a doubt the perfect matchup.

The Spartans have proven that they can beat some of the best teams in the country in Stanford (2013 Rose Bowl), Baylor (2014 Cotton Bowl), the defending national champions in Ohio State, etc. 

But, if we're being honest, Alabama is the measuring stick. The direction of the program began to trend upwards in 2010, but a 49-7 loss to the Crimson Tide in the 2011 Capital One Bowl showed the Spartans how much further they had to go to compete with the nation's elite.

That was then and this is now. MSU has come a long way since that loss to Alabama and it has shown in their record, their rankings and their recruiting. 

MSU is going to win on New Year's Eve and I'm going to tell you why I think that will happen.

Better QB play

The SEC is one of the best conferences in college football, producing some of the top talent at a lot of positions, but the one area they lack in is quarterback play.

MSU senior quarterback Connor Cook is one of the best in the country and he's certainly going to be the best the Crimson Tide have played against.

Cook is 34-4 as a starter at MSU and he has the ability to make some throws that I'm confident not many collegiate quarterbacks can make. The other thing about Connor is that he plays his best football on the biggest stage and he's also never lost in the postseason. 

Cook is 5-0 in postseason play with wins in the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against TCU, the 2013 Big Ten Championship, the 2013 Rose Bowl, the 2014 Cotton Bowl and the 2015 Big Ten Championship. 

If Cook is 100 percent like he says he is then MSU will have one of the best weapons a college team can have at their disposal, a NFL quarterback.

Prophecy

MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio has a way with words and a knack for giving life to his many mantras and messages.

For example, in MSU’s shocking victory over the University of Michigan, Dantonio had the team wait an extra 10 seconds on the bus in silence to take in the importance of the game. And that 10 seconds came back to the Spartans when they blocked a punt for a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining before the play started.

The Spartans won the 2014 Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 2015 and Dantonio has been talking a lot about bringing the year full circle with the 2015 edition of the Cotton Bowl taking place on Dec. 31, 2015.

"Last year we were able to win the Cotton Bowl on January 1. So it's sort of ironic to me that we're playing on December 31st. And we look to go 365," Dantonio said. "We left on an upswing, and it was a very positive end of the season for us and it sort of catapulted us into 2015. But along with that, we didn't reach our goals. 

"So we were an 11-2 football team and ended up No. 5 in the nation. But nobody felt like they were satisfied, and I think that's what allowed us to move forward sort of with a state of mind that understood that we need to play better."

The proof is in the pudding

The Spartans play their best football against the best competition. In their last eight games vs AP Top-10 teams MSU is 7-1.

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Against one of the best running backs in the country in Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott the Spartan defense played its best. MSU held Elliott to just 33 rushing yards and he's averaging just over 139 a game in 2015. The 33-yard performance was the only time he was held to under 100 this season.

MSU will play its best football against Alabama and take their place amongst the truly elite in college football. And in 2016, everyone will know how to spell Mark Dantonio's name.

To read The Crimson White's dueling column by Tyler Waldrep, click here.

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