ARLINGTON, TX - Alabama's defense led the first charge, their offense and special teams carried it from there as the Crimson Tide blew out the Michigan State Spartans 38-0 on their way to the national championship game against the Clemson Tigers. Jake Coker went 25/30 for 286 yards and two touchdowns while Derrick Henry had 20 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Calvin Ridley was a huge difference maker with eight catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
Connor Cook went 19/39 for 210 yards and two interceptions in his final game for the Spartans.
But the dominance by the Crimson Tide wasn't completely obvious in the first quarter as to nobodies surprise, defense was the name of the game throughout the scoreless quarter.
Montae Nicholson with an NFL clinic on how to make an open field tackle. #CottonBowl— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) January 1, 2016
Michigan State had the longest offensive play of the quarter when Connor Cook found Felton Davis III for a 28-yard gain. Cook ended up 3 of 5 for 45 yards after the first, but the Spartans only had 40 total yards. Alabama had 47 total yards as Coker went 6/8 for 38 yards. Henry had five carries for 15 yards.
Defense came up strong once again for both teams until 6:05 left in the second quarter when Jake Coker found Calvin Ridley for a 50-yard gain down to the one. Ridley had just enough room in front of two Spartans to come down with the catch. Then Alabama gave it to the Heisman winner.
Henry dives in from a yard out and #Alabama is on the board first here in Dallas.— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) January 1, 2016
It took two plays from the one, but Alabama took a 7-0 lead with just over five minutes left in the second.
Derrick Henry has scored in 19 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in NCAA history. #CottonBowl— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) January 1, 2016
Henry has 30 yards on 11 carries. Jake Coker is 12/15 for 128 yards.
Alabama's defense came up strong once again forcing MSU into a three-and-out and then Coker stayed hot. The big play was when he found O.J. Howard for a 41-yard gain down to the Spartans 24 yard line. MSU's defense forced a 47-yard field goal by Adam Griffith to make it a 10-0 Alabama lead with 1:25 left in the second.
Connor Cook led a drive late in the first half--easily the Spartans best drive of the half--until he threw a pick at the Crimson Tide one-yard line to Cyrus Jones that crushed any chance for the Spartans to get on the board before the half. It was a 63-yard drive that ended at the one.
Dantonio has called on seniors to play their best all season long....it's tough to watch Connor Cook miss throws that he has made all year— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) January 1, 2016
Alabama took a 10-0 lead to to the locker rooms. Coker went 16/20 for 177 yards in the first half, while Cook went 9/18 for 133 yards and an interception.
One thing Saban praised MSU for before the game was taking care of ball. That's the worst kind of turnover right there. Half: UA 10, MSU 0— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) January 1, 2016
Michigan State talked all week how they had to keep Henry in check, he had 13 carries for 38 yards and one touchdown. The Spartans had -9 yards rushing. Alabama had 212 total yards to MSU's 124.
After losing a halftime lead a year ago, the Crimson Tide were determined not to have it happen again. Alabama received the kick-off and marched right down the field and into the end zone when Coker found Ridley--who fought a Spartans defender--for a six-yard touchdown to help give Alabama a 17-0 lead.
The Crimson Tide went 82 yards in 10 plays that lasted just over four minutes. MSU went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and any chance to make a comeback started to fade.
Six MSU rushers have combined for -5 yards on 15 carries— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) January 1, 2016
Cyrus Jones officially put it away for Alabama.
Game, Set, Match. A 57 yard punt return for a TD by Cyrus Jones gives #Alabama a 24-0 lead with 3:24 to play in the 3rd quarter.— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) January 1, 2016
Jake Coker made it 31-0 when he found Calvin Ridley for a 50-yd touchdown late in the third quarter.
Calvin Ridley is Ridiculous with 7 catches for 132 yards and two TD's. Gives a whole new meaning to Roll Tide.— Jennifer Hammond (@HammerFox2) January 1, 2016
Coker was 24/29 for 280 yards and two touchdowns before the start of the fourth quarter.
Alabama made it 38-0 when Henry had his second touchdown of the night--this time from 11 yards out--which was set up two plays earlier on a Kenyan Drake 58-yard run.
Alabama will play Clemson in the national championship game on January 11th.