Since Harlon Barnett began his college coaching career 12 years ago, he’s had the privilege of working under arguably the two best minds in the sport.

Before Barnett became Mark Dantonio’s defensive backs coach at Cincinnati, he spent one year working as a graduate assistant under Nick Saban at LSU, where he helped the Tigers to the 2003 national title.

A lot has changed since then. Barnett, of course, is now serving as Michigan State’s co-defensive coordinator under Dantonio, who also once worked under Saban. Barnett is tasked with figuring out a way to game-plan against Saban’s high-powered rushing attack in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

From his first-hand experience with Saban, Barnett knows what he’s up against. That’s why he had quite the compliment to pay the Alabama coach.

Yoda, of course, was the famous Star Wars character that trained Jedi. Saban, of course, has four national titles with two different teams. His pursuit of a fifth could depend largely on Barnett’s ability to game plan to shut down Heisman Trophy tailback Derrick Henry.

Henry had 90 carries in his last two games and racked up more rushes (339) than anybody in the country. Michigan State, on the other hand, hasn’t faced an opposing running back that got 20-plus carries in a game since the B1G opener against Purdue.

While Saban possesses the top weapon in college football, Dantonio and Barnett both possess the knowledge that their former boss taught them.

We’re only five days away from seeing which will prevail.