Alabama football: Keys to Crimson Tide's win over Michigan State in Capital One Bowl

January 2, 2011 

Key player

Courtney Upshaw, who won the game’s MVP award, was the ringleader of a hungry Alabama defense. He had two sacks, including the blind-side hit that resulted in the fumble and 30-yard loss that led to a rare fourth-and-goal punt in the second quarter.

Key moment

The 30-yard fumble. The aforementioned disaster for the Spartans was a major turning point. About to cut the Tide’s 14-0 lead in half, Michigan State was just 3 yards from the end zone before an illegal substitution set up the sack and fumble that took them out of even field-goal position.

Key decision

Pushing the pace. Knowing that Michigan State hasn’t seen sunny and 70 for months now, Nick Saban stuck it to his former team. He went no-huddle on the first possession of the game, leaving the Spartans gasping for air on the artificial surface that radiates the heat. Wearing them down early made it easier to pile it on late.

Quote of the game

“We were trying not to make Sports Center. They converted three or four third downs in the first drive and Jarrick had something to do with every one of them, so rather than use my technique that I used on A.J. I did not want to make Sports Center again, so we were patient and played Kirby. He settled down and played better. But it was a great experience for him, and it will be good for his development.”

-- Nick Saban on avoiding giving freshman defensive back Jarrick Williams a spanking for his miscues.

BY THE NUMBERS

-62

The lowest Michigan State’s rushing total got before gaining a few yards back to settle on a still-embarrassing -48.

5, 0

Sacks for and allowed by Alabama respectively that contributed to the big deficit in rushing yardage for Michigan State.

-- Michael Casagrande

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