Alabama and Michigan State have plenty in common.

Both teams won conference champions. Both teams have only one loss. And both teams will finally be meeting in Thursday night’s Cotton Bowl for the right to play in the College Football Playoff National Championship in Glendale, Ariz. on Monday, Jan. 11.

A year ago, Alabama lost 42-35 to Ohio State in a national semifinal. The Buckeyes went on to rout Oregon to win the national title.

The Crimson Tide once again will have to go through a Big Ten team to reach a potential matchup with Oklahoma or Clemson.

Here is what several national media outlets are saying about the mega matchup on New Year’s Eve:

  1. There are five reasons Michigan State will beat Alabama, according to in a story that lists quarterback Connor Cook and the Spartans’ run defense as two reasons. We’ll concede Michigan State’s edge at QB, but Alabama’s run defense is the best in the country. It will be stunning if the Spartans’ group outplays it.
  2. Nick Saban is respected, but Mark Dantonio is revered in East Lansing, so writes the Associated Press, which points out that Michigan State’s 36-4 record over the past three seasons is better than Alabama’s 35-5 mark over the same span. Coincidentally, the first time Dantonio’s Spartans met Saban’s Crimson Tide, Alabama came away with a 49-7 victory in the Capital One Bowl five years ago.
  3. Michigan State needs to do more than just stop Derrick Henry, The Washington Post reports. First of all, even though the Spartans’ run defense is good, there’s no guarantee it will stop the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner. And even if Michigan State finds a way to shut Henry down, there’s also no guarantee that its secondary can keep Jacob Coker & Co. from having a big night.
  4. Michigan State is in for a “long day” if Cook can’t get the Spartans’ passing game going, so says The most telling thing about this article is this quote from Nick Saban about Cook: “This might be arguably the best quarterback that we play against all year long.” Aside from Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly, of course.
  5. Lacking head coach offers, Lane Kiffin loves what Alabama offers, indicates, which points out that even after his coaching stints with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and USC that Alabama’s offensive coordinator is still only 40 years old. Kiffin would love to be a head coach again, but he also loves the fact that the Crimson Tide offers him a chance to win national championship every year.