The college football bowl season is upon us. With 40 games spread out over the next two weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile.  Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread.  Find all our picks here.

College Football Semifinal: Cotton Bowl
Michigan State vs. Alabama

Spread: Alabama -10
Total: 47

Spread: It’s a battle of two teams with the same basic principal philosophy. Dominate on defense, control the ball on offense, and don’t make mistakes. There is one massive difference between the two though on offense. Michigan State wants to rely a little more on their NFL hopeful QB Connor Cook while the Tide lean heavily on the Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. Competition is the key factor in figuring out who is actually going to win this game much more than X’s and O’s. It’s nearly impossible to compare the teams unit by unit because there’s no way to accurately compare how each has played in comparison to each other. That’s really just a fancy way of saying, how good is the SEC in comparison to the Big 10. Public perception tells us that the SEC is substantially better than the Big 10 which is why the spread is 10 in favor of Alabama. However, when you dig a little deeper into the teams Alabama actually played, the gap may be a bit closer than it appears. Alabama’s best wins all came against teams that went on to disappointing seasons when all was said and done. Meanwhile, Michigan State’s big victories were the sole reason why those teams fell out of the race. Alabama is the better team on paper, and should be able to control the football game, but 10 points is simply way too much in a game with so many unknown variables. Pick: Michigan State +10

Total: Here’s where we actually have to take a stab at how the game will go. The key to the game will be Michigan State’s ability to stop Derrick Henry and the Alabama run game. Statistically speaking that shouldn’t be an issue for the Spartans as they allow just 113 yards per game best for 13th in the nation. But that doesn’t even tell the whole story. The Spartans faced four teams in the top 31 in rushing. In those game, they allowed 18, 123, 81, and 86 yards respectively. All four averaged at least 200 yards per game. So let’s assume MSU slows the dominant run game of Alabama. Bama will then have to rely a little more on throwing the football, which will even further play into the Spartan defenses hands. Alabama’s defense shouldn’t have any sort of issue slowing the Michigan State offense, which leads this to likely be a low scoring game in which field possession will be paramount. The total is very low for a college football game, but one with such significance and two great defenses, it may take three or four OT’s for it to get there. Pick: Under 47

Listen to Usually Wrong with Ken Boehlke on CBS Sports Radio 1140 every Sunday morning from 8 to 10. Follow the show on Twitter @SportsRadio1140