East Lansing and the Michigan State Spartans have what in some way, they've wanted for a long time. A chance to show Nick Saban he was wrong to leave. A chance to show the country that the big bad SEC is no longer king. A chance to play for a national title.

All in one game.

New Year's Eve will feature the College Football Playoff semifinals and in the late game the Michigan State Spartans will return to a place just about a year prior they won the Cotton Bowl, to Dallas where the stakes will be much larger. A second Cotton Bowl would just be a footnote to the ultimate goal.

Looking at this matchup on paper, the quarterbacks are about equal but you could argue Jake Coker's performance in the SEC championship game may give him an edge over Connor Cook who's health was in question during the Big Ten championship game.

The running game is no question Alabama's. Derrick Henry is a workhorse and one of the Heisman front runners. LJ Scott had a hell of a drive, getting 14 of the 22 plays, but Henry is a freak of nature on the football field.

Both of these team's offensive lines are in contention for the inaugural Joe Moore Award for best offensive line unit. Expect hard nosed, gritty football, MSU likes that.

Michigan State boasts the Big Ten wide receiver of the year in Aaron Burbridge, but Alabama has the #2 total defense in the country and a pass defense that gives up less than 185 yards through the air. On the ground they give up 74 yards per game, the best in the country. And in the scoring department, Alabama is third in the nation with 14.4 points given up per game.

Michigan State is one of the best looking teams in the country right now, their game planning has been unbelievable for the last month, but with superior players on the field and superior stats all across the board, you can bet all the talk for the next three weeks is going to be on how Alabama should be able to cruise to the National Championship game.

And that's just the way Mark Dantonio wants it.

Alabama won't overlook the Spartans no matter what media narrative is put out there, Nick Saban is smarter than that, but the Spartans are at their best when there's a chip on their shoulder.

Right now, that chip is looking pretty big.