ARLINGTON, Texas — Alabama has two losses this calendar year, and Michigan State knows how to make it three.
Spartans players have been paying close attention to the video files marked “Ohio State” and “Ole Miss” over the past month. Receiver Aaron Burbridge has been especially attached to the latter.
“I watch that game a lot,” Burbridge said. “The things that the Ole Miss guys did, you know, they were getting physical. Alabama’s a very physical team. But when you get hit first in the mouth, it’s like, ‘Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that.’ That’s what we’ve gotta do.”
Added linebacker Riley Bullough: “I think the biggest thing Ole Miss did was they played with a ton of energy and passion for the whole game. When you can do that, you’re bound to make plays.”
The Spartans acknowledged they’ve been using last year’s Sugar Bowl tape as a guide to success, too.
“I think it was Ohio State’s discipline,” Bullough said of the Buckeyes’ 42-35 win over the Tide. “All their guys were doing their jobs, and doing their jobs consistently. We need to do that. That’s how we need to play to beat these guys.”
Burbridge sees plenty of weaknesses in Alabama’s back four.
“I was watching how the receivers were attacking the secondary,” he said. “They were just running right by them. Taking deep shots.”
The Crimson Tide have a lot of youth in the defensive backfield, which could hurt them, according to Burbridge.
“I could probably use the same move every time against a freshman,” he said. “That’s my mindset; You’re a freshman. You’re not going to stop me.”
But beating Alabama is, as several programs have learned during the Nick Saban era, easier said than done. Michigan State knows that.
“Most of the other games, you see Alabama dominating much of the time,” Bullough said. “You see over and over again Alabama trying to overpower the defenses. If you can limit that and not get worn down throughout the game, it’s gonna be crucial.”