Spartan Tide Matchup the Best Outside of the National Title?

Bill Marklevits


Love him or hate him, the NICKTATOR is back in the path of the Spartan Nation!
Love him or hate him, the NICKTATOR is back in the path of the Spartan Nation!



East Lansing –  As expected Michigan State’s (11-1) and Big Ten Conference champion football team did not receive a BCS bowl invite and for the second time in three years will head to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando to face Alabama (9-3) on January 1, 2011 with a 10:00 AM EST kickoff.  The match-up with defending national champion Alabama pits the Spartans against former head coach (1995-99) Nick Saban and his assistant Bobby Williams who coached at MSU from 2000 to 2002.  Also on Saban’s staff is long time MSU staffer Mike Vollmar and offensive coordinator Jim McElwain who was an assistant on John L. Smith’s staff from 2003-05.  No MSU team has faced a Saban coached team since he bolted East Lansing for LSU prior to the 2000 Citrus Bowl which is now called the Capital One Bowl.

MSU AD Mark Hollis said “MSU’s match-up with Alabama is as attractive as any BCS bowl game.” Alabama was up 24 – 0 over #1 ranked Auburn two weeks ago and according to Saban should have led 42 – 0 at half-time before they collapsed. MSU had over 25,000 fans in Orlando for the 2008 Capital One Bowl game with Georgia and should have even more this year.  Mark Dantonio was brought to MSU from Kansas in 1995 and was Saban’s secondary coach for five seasons and one season under Bobby Williams before moving on to Ohio State as Jim Tressel’s defensive coordinator. 

Dantonio said “We are excited to represent the Big Ten Conference as champions, and hope to give Alabama their fourth loss.”  When asked about the BCS snub, Dantonio said “We expected it. We can’t worry about the past, we are only concerned about the future and we look forward to this game with optimism.”  Saban said “We are pleased and honored to play a great MSU team that won 11 games, and are looking forward to a great challenge.” Saban also mentioned that he has good memories of his ten years in East Lansing and thanks George Perles for giving him the opportunity to become a defensive coordinator. Saban also said that “when you compete, you don’t have to be friends.”    A reporter from Alabama asked Dantonio about last year’s Heisman trophy winning RB Mark Ingram from Flint.   Dantonio was quick to respond “I thought he was coming to MSU” so it is clear some bad blood exists over Saban and lead recruiter Bobby Williams pulling the son of former MSU WR Mark Ingram out from under the Spartans late in the recruiting process.

Mark Dantonio becomes the first MSU football coach to take his first four teams to a bowl game. After last year’s 41-31 loss to Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl, Dantonio quickly mentioned that a goal for this year’s team would be winning their final game.   MSU will be the home team in the bowl game wearing their green jerseys and will be looking to get their 12th win this season and win the school’s first bowl game since the 2001 Silicon Valley Bowl 44-35 victory over Fresno State in San Jose.

MSU and Alabama have never played before but earlier this season it was announced that they will play a two game series. On September 03, 2016 MSU will travel to Tuscaloosa, and on September 02, 2017 Alabama will play in Spartan Stadium. 50 years ago Alabama Head Coach Bear Bryant was good friends with MSU’s Duffy Daugherty. For many Spartans it is beyond disappointing that an 11-1 Big Ten Champion MSU team won’t be playing in the Rose Bowl, but the match-up with Nick Saban’s Alabama team offers plenty of intrigue.

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