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Spartans' Connor Cook: Throwing shoulder feels 'really good'

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook expects to be fully healthy when he lines up against Alabama at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic with a trip to the national championship game on the line.

Cook injured his throwing shoulder when he was driven to the turf in a win over Maryland on Nov. 14 and has been hampered by it since then. The Spartans began bowl preparation earlier this week, and Cook said the extra time off helped the healing process.

"The last two days of practice I've felt really good," he said. "[It's] the best I've felt since the injury."

The fifth-year starter and winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award for best senior quarterback sat out the second half of the Maryland game and all of a 17-14 win over Ohio State the following week. He played against Penn State and in the Big Ten championship game against Iowa, but later admitted he didn't have the arm strength or accuracy he normally does.

While his health has improved, keeping the Alabama pass rush from aggravating the injury in Dallas is a top priority for Michigan State's offensive line.

"That'll be a huge factor," left tackle Jack Conklin said. "You watch them in their prior games, and it's going to come down to, 'Can we get the ball rolling to get Connor more time?'"

Cook threw for 24 touchdowns and five interceptions this season, at times lifting an offense that has suffered a slew of injuries during the course of the season.