EVANSTON IL - OCTOBER 23: Bennie Fowler #13 of the Michigan State Spartans catches a first down pass on a fake punt as Jordan Mabin #26 and Hunter Bates #7 of the Northwestern Wildcats close in for the tackle at Ryan Field on October 23 2010 in Evanston Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 35-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Bennie Fowler; Jordan Mabin; Hunter Bates
It was UA’s seventh win of the season, all of which have come at home. The win was also coach Anthony Grant’s 100th win as a head coach.
The 83 points are the most the Tide has scored this season and Grant thought the early success inside was key to the rest of the game.
"I thought JaMychal (Green) did a great job to start the game, getting the ball inside and being effective," Grant said. "I thought that opened up things for our guys on the perimeter. We were able to get some shots to fall and kind of flow from there."
Michigan State wide receiver Bennie Fowler doesn’t plan on being B.J. Cunningham, but plans to help replace the team’s leading receiver when the Spartans play Alabama in the Capital One Bowl on Saturday.
"I just have to do my job," he said. "This is going to be a collective effort from the receivers because what he has done, we can’t just replace all in one game or all with one guy."
Cunningham, a junior, led Michigan State with 50 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns this season. He suffered a broken foot in practice on Dec. 18, had surgery and plans on being back in the spring.
Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins, who was bothered by left shoulder and left ankle sprains the last five games of the regular season, appears to be 100 percent healthy.
Dave Warner, MSU's quarterback coach, said today before Capital One Bowl practice at Freedom High School that Cousins looks great.
"He’s moving around good," he said. "He’s had the time off to heal like a lot of our guys have, and he’s back ready to roll."
All-American junior strong safety Mark Barron is injured and won't play for Alabama, but that loss will be nullified by the fact that B.J. Cunningham, Michigan State's leading receiver (50 catches), also is sidelined with an injury.
Walk-on sophomore Will Lowery will start in Barron's place.
"Hopefully we can go at that matchup," Martin said.
Q. Has there ever been a negative backlash because you didn't stay home and go to Michigan State?
A. I think at first there was. When I first committed to Alabama, there were a lot of people in Michigan that were bitter about it. But a lot of them came along and a lot of them were happy for me.
Shuffling linemen was new to Alabama, which didn't deal with a significant injury when it won a national championship last season. The Tide used the same five starters in every game.
The injuries showed in Alabama's running results. The Tide averaged almost 230 yards rushing in its first five games before Fluker's injury. Over the last seven, which included a 262-yard game against Georgia State, Alabama averaged barely 136.
"That should definitely help," Jones said. "If we do our job, we definitely should have a great chance to win the bowl game."
With more than a month separating the bowl game from UA’s last game, an Iron Bowl loss to Auburn, the players who drive the Crimson Tide rushing attack feel as well physically as they’ve felt all season.
"Not taking the beating every Saturday of getting hit," Ingram said of his recent off time. "We practice hard, but you still have time to rest and recover. I guess just from a health standpoint, everybody is a little more fresh. I feel good."
"I can't. I can't. I can't. I can't do it, guys. I really can't," Ezell said. "I got to do it once. I don't think he'd let it happen again without me having to do 40 40s at 6 a.m."
There's no doubt that Ezell's Saban is a team favorite. In the video, he brings the house down with applause. Even Saban acknowledges that Ezell's impression is pretty good -- and that Ezell shies away from letting Saban see it.
"You've probably got to pay him or something," center William Vlachos said. "He's probably got it patented and can't do it in front of certain people. He's definitely got a talent for that."