As Co-Big Ten Champion, Michigan State entered looking to show the Midwest power conference had what it took to battle a team from the South. What they found was a team healthy and looking to show why many considered them the best non-BCS team in the country.
The Spartans magical season came to an abrupt end as Alabama beat the Spartans in every phase of the game and looked more like a defending National Champion than a team coming off a loss to rival Auburn.
The Crimson Tide looked faster and more powerful than the Big Ten Co-Champions as last season's Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram put the Tide on the scoreboard first with 8:20 left in the first quarter with a 1-yard run. Ingram would carry twelve times for 59 yards and two touchdowns on the day but the Tide were far from over in their dominance.
Alabama also hurt the Spartans in the air as senior quarterback Greg McElroy was 14-of-18 for 225-yards and a touchdown.
The Spartans offense had its ups and down during the day as the lack of a running game allowed the Tide to put pressure on quarterback Kirk Cousins who would leave the game after several jaw jarring hits. Cousins would go 10-of-19 for 120 yards and one interception before coming out of the game after a huge hit squarely in the back forced his removal.
However, by then the game was out of reach and Andrew Maxwell came in until he was knocked out of the game forcing the Spartans to finish with former quarterback Keith Nichol. Nichol was solid going 2-of-5 for 56 yards and a 49-yard touchdown to Bennie Fowler with 5:45 left in the game.
The story of the day was Alabama's defense as they held the Spartans to negative rushing yards forcing the Spartans to the air and placing Cousin's and Maxwell in dangers way.
The Spartans finish the season with an 11-2 record and say good-bye to several top players.
While the Capital One Bowl may not have gone the way Spartan fans would have liked, winning a Big Ten Championship shows Mark Dantonio has the program headed in the right direction. There will be several changes taking place in the coming week as Don Treadwell leaves to take over at Miami Ohio and other Spartan staff members could be moving with him.