Official announcements will not come until later this evening, but by all accounts it certainly seems like 'Bama will be headed to Orlando to take on Sparty on New Year's Day. Per Izzy Gould on Twitter:
Alabama is expected to be invited today to Capital One Bowl vs. Michigan State. That bowl kicks off at 1 p.m., Jan. 1. Stay tuned.
Hopefully this holds up, and if so I'll be elated. First and foremost, I really don't think Michigan State is all that good of a football team -- 11-1 with a bunch of close wins over middling-at-best teams (Notre Dame, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, etc.) and one 31-point blowout loss to a 7-5 Iowa team -- so we should have a good chance at winning and I imagine we'll be heavy favorites. Contrast that to having to play a spread passing attack out of the Big XII with no Mark Barron and a walk-on playing 70 snaps, and no one should be complaining about this match-up. This is infinitely better than us drawing someone like Oklahoma State or Texas A&M. It's obviously not a guaranteed win by any stretch, and admittedly Sparty did pull off an impressive win over Wisconsin in early October, but even so I think in terms of match-ups this has to be considered a best-case-scenario for 'Bama.
Match-up notwithstanding, though, I feel it's a fairly solid draw regardless. The Capital One Bowl is largely regarded as the best of the non-BCS bowls, and while the Cotton Bowl would have been fun it's probably better for us to end up in the Capital One simply because we recruit in Florida much more than we do in Texas. As an added bonus, we also get Nick Saban going against another one of his old schools, and it's also the first time Alabama has ever played Michigan State. Finally, the Citrus Bowl replaced the atrocious grass surface they had a year ago in the LSU v. Penn State game, and now they have an artificial surface that should play very well for us considering we should have more speed than MSU. All in all, hope this one holds up.