Capital One Bowl keys

Here are three keys for Alabama in its Capital One Bowl matchup with Michigan State:

1. Find some balance offensively: Alabama senior quarterback Greg McElroy had a big year throwing the football with 19 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. That was the good news. The bad news was that Alabama wasn’t nearly as effective running the ball as it was during its unbeaten national championship season. If the Crimson Tide can get Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson going in this game, then everything should fall into place offensively.

2. Avoid defensive breakdowns: The inexperience in the Alabama secondary reared its head more than a few times this season, usually at the worst times. Breakdowns in coverage cost the Crimson Tide in all three of their losses. They can’t afford to give up easy scores against the Spartans, who have already said they plan to test sophomore cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

3. Get the ball to Julio: Down the stretch, junior receiver Julio Jones was Alabama’s best player. For that matter, he was one of the best players in the SEC, period. He should draw some favorable matchups with the Michigan State cornerbacks, even when the Spartans shadow him with multiple defenders. The goal should be for Jones to get at least 10 touches in this game, which could include a few wrinkles.