It’s time to get know your enemy; we asked Spartan Avenue editor Connor Muldowney 5 Cotton Bowl questions.
"“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Coach Sun Tzu"
It’s time to get to know our Cotton Bowl enemy from the great white north. We talked to Spartan Avenue Editor Connor Muldowney and asked him 5 big Cotton Bowl questions.
What’s the feeling around the Spartans right now, are you worried about the “this is a big game for the program” mindset?
The best thing about this game for MSU is that the Spartans are playing with nothing to lose. No one is giving this team a chance to win, and that’s exactly where they want to be. Usually when teams are playing that way, it makes the game that much better and more competitive. Also, the fact that I believe the winner of this game will win it all.
The coaches are likely telling their players that they’ve done the unthinkable before this season by beating OSU without Connor Cook, Michigan with 10 seconds left and Iowa on a final minute TD when the offense looked lifeless. The team loves facing the Alabamas of college football. While there’s only one Bama, the Spartans are up for the task of playing maybe the best team in the country right now. Fans, well, they have to be a little worried. Any true fan of Michigan State is probably nervous about this one because Bama is the best team the Spartans have played all year. They need two more weeks of football, not just two more days.
Yeah, I worry about that, especially since you would have though MSU has earned the respect from winning games like Oregon, Ohio State on the road, Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, Stanford, TCU, Georgia, Baylor and Michigan a few times since the Crimson Tide and Spartans met last. I don’t like saying that phrase, but it’s true and it just feels like to me that people will say MSU isn’t elite if it loses.
What’s the Spartan plan for stopping Alabama’s defense and then Derrick Henry on offense?
Defensively, you can bet Mark Dantonio will try to run the ball early to open up the pass. Alabama might have one of the best run defenses in the nation (top two or three I think?) but Dantonio loves to go right at a team’s strength, showing he’s not going to back down. Look for a lot of LJ Scott early on.
As for stopping Henry, it needs to be up to the linebackers to plug the holes. Too often this season, those guys have been out of place or, when they’ve been in the right place, they’ve missed some easy tackles. To stop Henry, the box might need to be stacked because he’s the kind of back who will run right over you.
Where would you take Mark Dantonio on a first date? Where would you take Nick Saban?
If I had to take Mark Dantonio on a date, I’d take him somewhere like Dave & Busters so he could loosen up a bit. He’s the kind of guy who needs to smile and let loose. The end of the night move? Oh man, probably call him “Mike” because he really seems to like when people disrespect him.
I’d have to take Nick Saban to Spartan Stadium and give him the ol’ “remember when you said this program couldn’t be elite” speech at midfield. Just really tear down his confidence and make him feel like less of a man. Ya know, the “Saban Special.”
Why are Spartan fans still mad at Nick Saban?
Spartan fans aren’t really still mad at him, per say, but they just hate his guts, if that makes any sense at all. He’s like an ex-friend. You don’t think about him at all until he’s brought up, and then you want nothing more but to see him in pain and you realize why you hated him in the first place. It’s all because of the way he left the program. He said he was staying, then he left for more money right when the program seemed to be coming back. He lost faith and we lost respect.
Let’s bring our programs together, what’s your favorite Ohio State joke?
Favorite Ohio State joke? Man, that’s a tough one because there’s so many. If you said Michigan joke I’d give you some gold. Hm, Ohio State players probably hate going to the NFL because they have to take a huge pay cut.
Connor’s prediction: Michigan State 20, Alabama 23
Thanks Connor, and good luck tonight in the Cotton Bowl! Roll Tide!
Be sure to check out Spartan Avenue for more Cotton Bowl coverage.