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Our 2012 Outback Bowl picks feature a tremendous matchup of two teams that were beaten in their respective conference title games, as the Michigan State Spartans take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Tampa Bay.
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Outback Bowl Matchup: Michigan State Spartans vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Outback Bowl Date/Time: Monday, January 2nd, 1:00 ET
Outback Bowl Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
Outback Bowl Odds: Georgia -3.5
Outback Bowl Total: 50
Outback Bowl TV Coverage: ABC
Last year at this time, Head Coach Mark Richt was answering a lot of questions as to why his team finished up the season at 6-7 and with the distinction of being the first SEC team to lose to a Conference USA team in the Liberty Bowl. Things only got worse when UGA lost its first two games of the season. Richt probably essentially had one foot in his Athens grave and the other on a banana peel at that point, but the Bulldogs came together and amassed one of their best seasons in team history. Sure, they came up short in the SEC Championship Game against the LSU Tigers, but there was nothing to be ashamed of in that one considering the fact that the Bayou Bengals are arguably the best team in the country. Besides, nothing takes away from those 10 straight wins that the Dawgs rolled off in the interim.
Michigan State had another touched season, as it won its share of games at the death, just like it did a season ago. This year, it was a Hail Mary pass against the Wisconsin Badgers with no time left on the clock that proved to be the magical moment of the year. Of course, Wisconsin got the last laugh by beating the Spartans in the second go around in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game, but this is a nice consolation prize. You don’t think of MSU as a team that has posted 10+ wins in back to back seasons, but instead, all you probably remember is that this is the same squad that was absolutely taken behind the shed in the Capital One Bowl a season ago.
The Spartans had some trouble against passing teams this year, and though Georgia is a relatively balanced bunch, it is also a team that got a team record 33 TDs from sophomore QB Aaron Murray. That being said, this is definitely not a slouching offense either. RBs Edwin Baker and Le’Veon Bell are both power backs that can tear through even the best of defenses. Remember that once the Tigers got going in the SEC Championship Game, virtually all of their backs had the ability to take down the Dawgs as well.
We’re a bit puzzled as to why the ‘total’ in this game is so low. We saw that the Michigan State defense wasn’t able to hold up to the powerful Alabama offense last year in the Capital One Bowl, and we have no reason to believe that it is going to be able to stop the Bulldogs either. Georgia’s defense has had some suspect games this year as well, notably allowing 42 to LSU, 28 to Vanderbilt, 45 to South Carolina, and 35 to Boise State. Unless all of a sudden, Richt’s defense figures out how to take down the Spartans, this one could end up featuring a slew of points when the Outback Bowl is said and done.
Free Outback Bowl Pick: Michigan State/Georgia Over 50
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