Sure, Michigan State ended the season as one of the hottest teams in America.

They beat a couple of top-five teams in Iowa and Ohio State away from Spartan Stadium and looked every bit like a College Football Playoff team. With the way the Spartan defense was playing down the stretch, it was hard to find a team with more momentum than MSU.

But everybody knew that MSU needed a break more than anybody. Specifically, Connor Cook needed a break more than anybody.

The Michigan State quarterback was clearly not at 100 percent during the B1G Championship after suffering a shoulder injury against Maryland that hampered him for the final month of the season.

Upon the Spartans’ arrival for the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the MSU quarterback talked about what the three-week break did for his shoulder.

“Did everything,” he said. “A lot of rest. That’s the main thing. When you have an injury and stuff, yeah, you can rehab it. You can ice it or whatever, but rest is key. I was able to do that. Didn’t really throw a whole lot. Went home and did some extra rehab stuff, lifted a little bit, strengthened it, and rested.

“I think it’s the best it’s felt so far. That’s for sure.”

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That’s obviously big news for Michigan State, which will need its senior quarterback at full strength to take down Alabama.

Without him, Tyler O’Connor fueled for the Spartans’ upset victory in Columbus, but Cook is the quarterback with four games of postseason experience. Cook, the nation’s second winningest quarterback, has a 4-0 mark in the postseason as a starter.

But Dantonio did say immediately after Cook suffered the initial injury against Maryland that he would be a go against Ohio State. On Saturday, he didn’t give a guarantee that his signal-caller was back to full strength.

“I think he’s doing fine. He’s here. He can speak to that. I think he’s doing great,” Dantonio said. “(Cook) played in a couple of games already, so there shouldn’t be any issues there. He’s practiced. That’s where we’re at.”

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But Dantonio did go on to praise Cook’s ability to come up big in the postseason, and made no comments that would reflect any doubt that he’ll be on the field for the semifinal showdown.

And for now, it appears Cook is much more focused on the tall task in front of him than compensating for his shoulder.

“You turn the film and it looks like an NFL defense,” he said about Alabama. “They have got the size. They’ve got the speed. They’ve got the intelligence. The guys on their team know how to run the defense.”

Assuming he plays, Cook will have his shot at that vaunted Alabama defense when the teams square off on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.