Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Spartans Work Early, Late

Photo By: Photo by James D. Smith/CBAA

Michigan State turned in its final practice for the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic on Tuesday, capping a full day.

The team started the day with pre-dawn wakeup calls so they could bus from the team hotel to AT&T Stadium for an hour-long media session. After more preparation back at the hotel, they returned to the stadium in the afternoon and worked vigorously for two hours.

“Long day,” Head Coach Mark Dantonio said. “We spent about two hours on a bus – half hour, half hour, half hour, half hour (commuting each way). So, long day today and I think it’s important that our players are fresh.”

The No. 3 Spartans (12-1, 7-1 Big Ten) play No. 2 Alabama (12-1, 8-1 SEC) on Thursday. The winner advances the College Football Playoff National Championship on Jan. 11 in Glendale, Ariz.

Coaches and players – mostly the higher-profile players – have met with various media since Saturday. But the Tuesday event was the game’s designated media day where all players and coaches are made available for interviews and a large media contingent shows up.

By this point before a bowl game, it’s not unusual for teams to experience interview fatigue and it’s no different for Michigan State. Dantonio and the Spartans have been gracious with their time and answers all week and seemingly every question has been asked.

“I think enough’s been said,” Dantonio said. “The game’s played on the field.”

In the afternoon, the practice’s content was “a clean-up deal, mental-type preparation and final preparation,” Dantonio said. “There will be some adjustments, I’m sure, but for the most part we’re ready to go.”

Some teams use bowl practices to scrimmage younger players who won’t play in the game. It gives them more chances to develop and it gives the coaches a glimpse of the future. But with another game looming should they win, this isn’t an average bowl week. Michigan State has been guarded with its redshirt and other deep-reserve players this week.

“It’s a catch-22 situation,” Dantonio said. “We need every single person. So we can’t come out here and scrimmage our young guys because we don’t want to get anybody hurt. They’re a value too, in terms of scout team and things of that nature.”

The Spartans will go through a brief stadium walk-through on Wednesday and meetings in the final 24 hours before the game. They’ll also stay off their feet as much as possible.

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.

Toll Free: 888-792-BOWL (2695)
One AT&T Way, Arlington, TX 76011

Dallas Morning News
Copyright 2018. Cotton Bowl Classic. All rights reserved. Design and development by Blythe Spirit Design and Development.