Alabama and Michigan State have both returned to the practice field ahead of a Cotton Bowl meeting on December 31. 

Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio spoke to reporters about facing the No. 2 team in the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten champions are a 10-point underdog and understand the challenge that lies ahead. Dantonio discussed the difficulties playing against the Crimson Tide and said he was really impressed with the defensive side of the ball.

"Everywhere you look you're impressed," Dantonio said. "I'm a defensive coach by trade, so when you look at their defense you see guys playing with great techniques and being very successful at what they do."

The Alabama defense finished the season ranked first nationally against the run, second in total defense, and third in scoring. The semifinal game on New Year's Eve is expected to be a defensive battle.