Saturday, December 26th, 2015

MSU Puts in Solid Start

Michigan State began its on-site preparation Saturday for the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

The Spartans practiced for the first time in seven days, working 2½ hours in full pads at AT&T Stadium.

“Good practice today,” Head Coach Mark Dantonio said. “We got a lot of things done and got reconnected with the environment here, you could say, and had good work.”

The Spartans (12-1, 7-1 Big Ten) started the year at AT&T Stadium when they rallied from 20 points down to beat Baylor 42-41 in the 2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. They’re back this time as the No. 3 team in the CFP rankings and will meet No. 2 Alabama (12-1, 8-1 SEC) on Thursday, Dec. 31.

Alabama presents a physical challenge. Michigan State wants to be ready physically but also wants to approach it in a smart way. Dantonio said “there was some” contact in practice but added, “We’re not going live.”

Carryover was evident from the last practice on campus.

“We had good retention and we looked like we were in shape,” Dantonio said. “We’ll find out next week.”

Several players took game preparation material home with them and maintained a level of physical activity, players said earlier in the day at a media session. But just getting off the practice field and spending time with family was important, too.

“I think we’ve got to be fresh. That’s my opinion,” Dantonio said. “We’re going to get fresh and then we work when we work. We work hard. This was a good 2½ hours.”

Michigan State will be the visiting team on the scoreboard and the bench.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic celebrates its 80th anniversary on New Year’s Eve while hosting its first College Football Playoff Semifinal. Airtime on ESPN is set for 7 p.m. CST, with kickoff slated for 7:10 p.m.

This marks the second year for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl to be a part of ESPN’s bowl lineup. Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will provide the call from the booth with Heather Cox and Tom Rinaldi reporting from the sideline.

ESPN Radio returns as the Classic's national radio partner for the fourth consecutive year. Brad Sham, the "Voice of the Dallas Cowboys," teams with Danny Kanell in the booth and Ian Fitzsimmons on the sideline to describe all the action from AT&T Stadium. This is Sham's 19th consecutive year as the Classic's play-by-play voice and his 23rd overall.

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