staff, December 28, 2015

(AP) Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook says his shoulder is feeling great after a late-season injury.

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The third-ranked Spartans play No. 2 Alabama on Thursday night in the Cotton Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff. Win, and Michigan State will face the Clemson-Oklahoma Orange Bowl semifinal victor in the national championships game.

Cook missed the Ohio State game because of a sore right shoulder, and the pain still lingered through the regular-season finale against Penn State and the Big Ten title game.

Having some down time and nearly a month between games was a huge benefit for the star senior.

"The time off, being home, rehabbing it was great," Cook said. "That was crucial."

Cook, Michigan State's all-time winningest quarterback, has thrown for 2,921 yards and 24 touchdowns this season.

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports