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Capital One Bowl Recap: Crimson Tide Rolls Over Sparty, 49-7

(Sports Network) - Michigan native Mark Ingram erupted for two first-half touchdown runs as No. 15 Alabama rolled over seventh-ranked Michigan State, 49-7, in the Capital One Bowl.

Ingram -- whose father Mark Ingram Sr. played at Michigan State -- didn't play most of the second half after suffering a high ankle sprain but it wasn't before he picked up 59 yards on 12 carries and had one catch for 30 yards.

Greg McElroy completed an efficient 13-of-17 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown for the Crimson Tide (10-3), who redeemed themselves from a somewhat disappointing year that included a regular season finale loss to SEC rival Auburn.

"I'm proud of the way the players played," said Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "We're not satisfied with where we ended up, you know. We compete to win the SEC championship. First of all, we wanted to win our division and we didn't. We didn't get the opportunity to play in the SEC championship game and that's our goal, so that's what we want to accomplish."

Marquis Maze led all receivers with four grabs for 77 yards and a touchdown, while Julio Jones hauled in three passes for 49 yards and rushed for a score. Eddie Lacy finished with 86 yards and two touchdowns on only five carries, while Trent Richardson also had 42 yards rushing and a TD.

Kirk Cousins threw for 120 yards on 10-of-18 passes but was intercepted once for the Spartans (11-2), who finished the season in a three-way tie for the Big Ten title, but were denied a BCS Bowl bid by losing a tiebreaker with Wisconsin and Ohio State.

Cousins hurt his ribs in the third quarter and did not return while the Spartans cycled through three different quarterbacks. Bennie Fowler scored the lone touchdown for the Spartans on a pass from third-string quarterback Keith Nichol. The MSU offense ended with a dismal minus-48 yards rushing.

"I would say our quarterbacks got hit between 15 and 20 times easily today," said Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio. "If that's happening, it takes effect on you after a while. You can see they knocked both quarterbacks out. We need to do establish a running game to take the heat off of that. You know, they won up front. That's the difference. That's the difference. You know, you have to win up front if you're going to play football."

The Crimson Tide offense was unstoppable in their first five drives, which all resulted in touchdowns.

Alabama ate up the first 6:40 of the game with a 13-play, 79-yard drive capped off by Ingram's one-yard plunge into the end zone. The drive was highlighted by Maze's 19-yard grab to move Alabama to MSU's 27-yard line.

During the Spartan's opening touch, Cousins was picked off by Robert Lester at the Alabama 16 and he returned it 22 yards to start the Tide's second scoring march. Richardson scurried eight yards up the right side on the second play of the second quarter to finish the drive for a 14-0 edge.

On the next play from scrimmage, Cousins completed a pass in the flat to Brian Linthicum, who appeared to fumble the ball before Lester returned it for a touchdown. However, the play was reviewed and then ruled as an incompletion.

The Spartans took the momentum from the reversed call and marched to the Tide three before the drive came to an end. Courtney Upshaw came unblocked and hit Cousins from his blind side during a 3rd-and-goal play. The ball popped out of the QB's hands and was kicked around all the way back to the 38 where John Stipek recovered for the Spartans. MSU was forced to punt on the next play.

"Very, very quickly, it didn't go very well for us today," Dantonio said. "We needed to start out hot and take advantage of our opportunities that we had. We had two turnovers. That hurts us."

The Tide responded with a healthy dose of Ingram, who rushed three times for 26 yards during their ensuing drive. He also caught on ball and broke several tackles for a 30-yard gain to set up his six-yard TD run up the middle with 6:46 left before the intermission.

It was a perfect four-for-four for the Alabama offense when Jones took an end- around play 35-yards down the left sideline during the third play of the next drive for a commanding 28-0 lead just under two minutes later. The score stayed that way into halftime.

Alabama kept rolling by scoring on its first drive of the second half when McElroy hit a wide open Maze on a 37-yard seam pass to make it 35-0.

The Tide's first punt came with 7:33 left in the third quarter. Cousins left the game on the ensuing possession after getting sacked by Alex Watkins.

The drive ended with a MSU punt and Alabama answered with another touchdown with a 1:09 remaining in the third when Lacy rushed the ball up the middle from 12 yards out.

He added another score six minutes into the fourth on a career-long 62-yard jaunt.

The Spartans finally got on the board with 5:45 left when Nichol completed a short pass to Fowler, who broke free for a 49-yard touchdown.

Game Notes

Alabama has played in more bowl games (59) and earned more bowl wins (32) than any school in college football history...The Crimson Tide, who have posted a 32-23-3 all-time bowl record, made their fourth consecutive bowl appearance under head coach Nick Saban and seventh straight overall...Alabama outgained the Spartans, 546-171...Michigan State won a school-record 11 games and shared its first Big Ten Championship since 1990...Nichol completed 2-of-5 passes for 56 yards...Edwin Baker rushed 12 yards for 14 yards to lead the Spartans on the ground...B.J. Cunningham did not play for MSU after he broke his foot during a December 18 practice...MSU's leading receiver Mark Dell was held to just two receptions for 27 yards.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.