Michigan State and Georgia go head-to-head in the 2012 Outback Bowl. The Outback Bowl is one of three bowl games to feature a matchup of the SEC and Big Ten. Georgia and Michigan State both played in their conference championship games with the Bulldogs losing to LSU and the Spartans taking a loss against Wisconsin.
Michigan State went 7-1 in Big Ten Conference play this season and finished 10-3 overall. The Spartans losses came to Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The Spartans are currently ranked #17 in the country. The Georgia Bulldogs started 0-2 with losses to Bosie State and South Carolina, but then they reeled of 10 straight wins and earned a spot in the SEC title game. Georgia lost the title game to #1 LSU 42-10. The Bulldogs are ranked #16 in college football heading into the 2012 Outback Bowl
When Georgia is on Offense
The Bulldogs’ offense ranked 34th in the nation scoring 32.2 points per game this season. The key to the Georgia offense is balance. The Bulldogs average 172 yards on the ground and 241 yards passing per game. Sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray threw for 2861 yards and 33 touchdowns this season. There is still plenty of room for improvement for Murray who only completed 58% of his passes and threw 12 interceptions while taking 28 sacks. There were high expectations for freshman running back Isaiah Crowell, but he had a roller coaster type season. Crowell showed flashes of brilliance but was inconsistent. Freshman wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell led the team in receiving yards with 614 yards.
The Spartans’ defense ranked 9th in the country allowing only 17.5 points per game. Michigan State is coming off a game against Wisconsin in which they gave up a season high 42 points. The Spartans were successful rushing the passer this season and finished 4th in the nation with 41 sacks. They should be able to get to Aaron Murray and force the sophomore quarterback into mistakes.
When Michigan State is on Offense
Michigan State averaged 30.8 points per game this season. Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins was solid this year completing 65% of his passes for 3016 yards and 24 touchdowns. Cousins has two reliable senior receivers in B.J Cunningham and Keshawn Martin. Cunningham caught 72 passes for 1240 yards and Martin hauled in 62 passes for 742 yards. Le’Von Bell and Edwin Baker split carries at running back this season and combined for 1555 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Georgia’s defense was 16th in the nation allowing 19.6 points per game. Like Michigan State, the Bulldogs allowed 42 points to their opponents (LSU) in the conference title game. Linebacker Jarvis Jones is second in the nation with 13.5 sacks, and safety Bacarri Rambo was second in college football with 7 interceptions. As a team Georgia had 34 sacks and 17 interceptions this season.
2012 Outback Bowl Pick Against the Spread
Georgia is currently favored by 3.5 points over Michigan State. Both teams had great seasons this year and would love to cap it off with a bowl win. This will be a hard fought game with two very talented defenses going up against good offensive teams. I like Georgia to win the game, but I will take the Spartans with the 3.5 points.
2012 Outback Bowl Prediction
Georgia – 24
Michigan State – 21