2015 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
CFP Semifinal
80th Cotton Bowl Classic
1234 Total
Michigan State 0000 0
Alabama 010217 38
DateDecember 31, 2015
StadiumAT&T Stadium
LocationArlington, Texas
MVPQB Jake Coker (Alabama)
CB Cyrus Jones (Alabama)
FavoriteAlabama by 10
RefereeMike DeFee (Big XII)[1]
United States TV coverage
NetworkESPN/ESPN Radio
AnnouncersChris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox, and Tom Rinaldi (ESPN) Brad Sham, Danny Kanell and Ian Fitzsimmons (ESPN Radio)
Nielsen ratings(18.5 Million viewers)
Cotton Bowl Classic
 < 2015 (Jan.) 2017
2 vs. 3 Seed CFP Semifinal Game
 < 2015 Rose 2016 Fiesta

The 2015 Cotton Bowl Classic was a college football bowl game played on December 31, 2015 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The 80th Cotton Bowl Classic was a College Football Playoff semifinal between Alabama and Michigan State with the winner to compete in the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship. It was one of the 2015–16 bowl games that concluded the 2015 FBS football season.

The game was broadcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and XM Satellite Radio. It was sponsored by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and was officially known as the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

Alabama defeated Michigan State 38–0 and later won the National Championship by defeating Clemson in the National Championship game.[2]


The Cotton Bowl acted as one of the two College Football Playoff semifinal games. The two teams selected for the game were No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Michigan State.[3] Michigan State returned to the Cotton Bowl after defeating Baylor in a non-playoff version of the bowl game on January 1, 2015.[4][5] Michigan State became just the third school in history to play in the same bowl twice in a calendar year, joining Auburn, which played in the Gator Bowl on January 1 and December 31, 1954, and Oklahoma, which played in the Sugar Bowl on January 1 and December 31, 1972.

The game was a rematch of the 2011 Capital One Bowl, where Alabama defeated Michigan State 49–7.[6]

Game summary

After Oklahoma lost to Clemson 17–37 in the Orange Bowl Semifinal, Michigan State was throttled by Alabama 38–0.[7] A tight first half saw Alabama take a 10–0 lead into half time. Near the end of the second quarter, Michigan State had its best drive of the night, but all-time winningest MSU quarterback, Connor Cook, was intercepted by Cyrus Jones. Alabama scored a touchdown on the opening possession of the second half and MSU turned the ball over on its first possession. Alabama could not capitalize on the turnover, but did return MSU's next punt for a touchdown, putting the game out of reach at 24–0 with a little over three minutes remaining in the third quarter. MSU's offense could not muster any points and were held to a total of 249 yards. Cook finished the night with zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

Alabama would go on to defeat Clemson 45–40 for the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship.[8]

Scoring summary

Scoring summary
Quarter Time Drive Team Scoring information Score
2 5:36 6 80 2:38 ALA Derrick Henry 1-yard touchdown run, Adam Griffith kick good 0 7
2 1:25 7 43 2:39 ALA 47-yard field goal by Adam Griffith 0 10
3 10:36 9 75 4:24 ALA Calvin Ridley 6-yard touchdown reception from Jake Coker, Adam Griffith kick good 0 17
3 3:24 - - - ALA Punt returned 57 yards for touchdown by Cyrus Jones, Adam Griffith kick good 0 24
3 2:20 1 50 0:09 ALA Calvin Ridley 50-yard touchdown reception from Jake Coker, Adam Griffith kick good 0 31
4 7:52 3 69 0:09 ALA Derrick Henry 11-yard touchdown run, Adam Griffith kick good 0 38
"TOP" = time of possession. For other American football terms, see Glossary of American football. 0 38


Statistics[1] Michigan State Alabama
First Downs 5 21
Total offense, plays - yards 65–193 66–440
Rushes-yards (net) 26–29 35–154
Passing yards (net) 188 286
Passes, Comp-Att-Int 19–39–2 25–31–0
Time of Possession 27:04 32:56


  1. ^ a b c "2015 Cotton Bowl Classic: Michigan State vs. Alabama Stats". Stat Broadcast. Retrieved 2015-12-31.
  2. ^ "Alabama routs Michigan State to reach College Football Playoff final". Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  3. ^ "Playoff bound: MSU ranked No. 3 to play Alabama in Cotton Bowl". 2015-12-06. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  4. ^ "No. 7 Michigan State stuns No. 4 Baylor 42-41 in Cotton Bowl". Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  5. ^ "Cotton Bowl History, Scores, Results". www.collegefootballpoll.com. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  6. ^ "Cotton Bowl by the numbers: Alabama, Michigan State meet in CFP semifinals". Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  7. ^ "Michigan State vs. Alabama - Game Recap - December 31, 2015 - ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2016-09-20.
  8. ^ "Alabama vs. Clemson - Game Recap - January 11, 2016 - ESPN". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2016-09-20.