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The Jumbo Package: 12/27/10

Alabama hits the field in Orlando |

Saban said one of the challenges to beating Michigan State is that the Spartans don't make crucial mistakes.

"I think one of the best things about Michigan State's team is that they don't beat themselves a lot," Saban said. "They really play sound, fundamental, well-coached football and have really good schemes on both sides of the ball and their players do a really good job of executing."

Eric Gordon: Spartans confident, prepared heading into Capital One Bowl vs. Alabama |

"We’ve had a lot of program wins this year, and we want to keep it going," he said. "Michigan was a program win. Wisconsin was a program win. Penn State was a program win. There’s all these wins we’ve won for ourselves, and things that have been done for the first time in a long time around here."

Capital One Bowl: Hightower hits stride for Tide |

Dont'a Hightower huddled with Alabama head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, reviewed his season and thought about the way he returned from last year's knee injury.

He looked over film from early in the year -- when he was both adjusting to a new linebacker role and fully testing his knee for the first time -- and could see a difference.

Hightower compared those tapes with the last few games, says he can see great improvement and feels personal momentum heading into Saturday's Capital One Bowl against Michigan State.

"It was very frustrating in the beginning of the year," Hightower said. "I thought I was 100 percent at the beginning of the year, but I went back and watched film, and I talked with Coach Smart and Coach Saban.

"They told me the last couple games I actually looked like I the old me before I got hurt."

Alabama and Michigan State meet face-to-face |

Saban dismissed the idea of nostalgia for Michigan State tugging at his heart.

"The game is about the players," Saban said. "It's not really about any of that other stuff. I know it makes good stories for you guys to write about and all that other kind of stuff. Really, it's about our players, our team, what we need to do to play our best football."

Capital One Bowl: Alabama notebook for Michigan State and Capital One Bowl |

Hello, from sunny Florida: Despite being the site of countless palm trees and other hints of warm weather, the temperature here was in mid-40s when Alabama held its afternoon practice Sunday, with wind gust up to 35 mph, according to the Weather Channel.

Today's forecast calls for temperatures in the low-50s, with sunshine and winds of 15 mph.

Temperatures are expected to warm toward the end of the week with a game-day forecast of partly sunny skies and a high temperature of 79 degrees for the Capital One Bowl on Saturday against Michigan State.

Spartans find cooler temperatures for first Capital One Bowl practice in Orlando |

Michigan State’s football team arrived Christmas night, took part in an event for underprivileged kids at a Disney property Sunday morning and then practiced in temperatures in the 40s and a wind chill estimated in the 30s.

"I’ve got my gloves in my pocket, my hat, we’re ready to go," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said before practice at a local high school. "We didn’t bring it (the weather from Michigan), but we can certainly practice in this. It feels like November (in East Lansing), I guess -- late November."

UA players get shopping spree at Best Buy |

"That’s a pretty good bowl gift. You have all the options," said senior Rob Ezell. "Certainly, an Xbox is in play. Any kind of iPod player is good for a party. The options are just so unlimited. I don’t know where I’m going to go with it."

UA wide receiver Julio Jones said he would probably go for some high-quality headphones and a few CDs. Sophomore safety Robert Lester will head for the video game department. Center William Vlachos said he may feel a bit lost.

"I’m not big on electronics. My dad has to hook up my DVD player," Vlachos said. "I’m not good with electronics. I don’t have many. I’ll have to get in there and find something, maybe a bunch of movies, I don’t know."