Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Michigan State Fine Tunes Gameplan For New Year's Day Battle With Baylor

Photo By: Photo by Ian Halperin, CBAA

With most of its Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic preparations in the books, No. 8 Michigan State took to the turf on Tuesday afternoon for a final all-out practice at AT&T Stadium.

MSU did not slack off in their fifth Classic workout, conducting a spirited session in shorts and shells that lasted more than two hours. Continuing a program tradition, head coach Mark Dantonio concluded practice with a video tribute to the senior class followed by every senior walking down a receiving line to share final goodbyes with other teammates, coaches and support staff.

“It’s a little emotional for guys,” said Dantonio. “They’re with you for five years, four years. This is their last chance to see a lot of people because after this bowl game, a lot of our guys will leave and some of them we won’t see for four or five months when they come back for pro day. Some are leaving who aren’t going to the pros or aren’t going to the NFL so they are working jobs. So this is just the next step in their lives.”

MSU (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) will go through a light walk-through on Wednesday to put the final touches on its gameplan for No. 5 Baylor (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) in a New Year’s Six bowl matchup that is a part of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

“After we lost that late-season game, we had to re-align our goals and figure out the next best place you can be. And I pointed to the Cotton Bowl,” said Dantonio. “The Cotton Bowl has always been a destination place. This was the place we wanted to come, I personally wanted us to come, because I knew we would have an opportunity to play a team that was ranked above us.”

Former Spartans stopping by to take in a few minutes of practice today were former MLB pitcher Tim Crabtree (1990-92), former NFL great and 2011 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Gene Washington (1964-66) and former NFL standout Robaire Smith (1997-99).

Tonight, the players get to enjoy some down time with family and friends. The coaches, administrators and their families get to revel in some more Classic hospitality at the Dr Pepper Party featuring Joe Nichols.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl celebrates its 79th edition on New Year's Day and kicks off a new era as a member of the College Football Playoff. Airtime on ESPN is set for 11:30 a.m. CST with kickoff slated for 11:45 a.m. For the first year, The Classic joins ESPN’s bowl lineup with Dave Pasch and Brian Griese on the call from the booth with Tom Luginbill reporting from the sideline.

For the third consecutive year, ESPN Radio returns as the Classic's national radio partner. Brad Sham, the "Voice of the Dallas Cowboys," teams with Kelly Stoufer in the booth and Ian Fitzsimmons from the sideline to describe all the action from AT&T Stadium. This will be Sham's 18th straight year as the Classic's play-by-play man and his 22nd overall.

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