TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Michigan State (10-3) vs. Georgia (10-3), 1 p.m. (ABC)
Line: Georgia by 3.
Series Record: Georgia leads 2-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
After losing the conference championship games in their respective conferences, the Spartans and Bulldogs are hoping to finish the season on a winning note. Michigan State lost the Big Ten title game to Wisconsin 42-39 and has dropped its last five bowl games, four of them under coach Mark Dantonio. Georgia led top-ranked LSU early in the Southeastern Conference championship game before fading badly in a 42-10 rout. The Bulldogs rallied from an 0-2 start to win their final 10 games of the regular season.
Georgia QB Aaron Murray vs. a strong Michigan State defense that allowed the fewest yards per game in the Big Ten. Murray has thrown for 2,861 yards and a Bulldogs-record 33 touchdowns, while being intercepted just 12 times. The Spartans led the Big Ten in sacks and rushing defense.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan State: QB Kirk Cousins has thrown for 3,016 yards, 24 TDs and seven interceptions. He is the winningest quarterback in school history, posting a 26-12 record as a starter, including 21-5 over the past two seasons. RB Le’Veon Bell led the Spartans in rushing, averaging 5.5 yards per attempt on the way to 900 yards and 11 TDs. WR B.J. Cunningham has 72 receptions for 1,240 yards and 12 TDs.
Georgia: Murray has plenty of talented targets when he drops back to throw the ball, including leading TE Orson Charles, who has 44 receptions for 572 yards and five TDs. WRs Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell averaged 12.2 and 16.2 yards per reception, respectively, and combined for 11 TDs. Injuries and suspensions have forced coach Mark Richt to use four different starting tailbacks. Richt said redshirt freshman Ken Malcome likely will start against Michigan State.
FACTS & FIGURES
The Outback Bowl is a homecoming for Georgia’s Murray and Charles, who also were teammates in high school and won a state championship at Tampa Plant. … Michigan State hasn’t won a bowl game since beating Fresno State 44-35 in the 2001 Silicon Valley Bowl. The Spartans have gone 0-5 since then, including a 24-12 loss to Georgia in the 2009 Capital One Bowl. … Richt has led Georgia to a bowl appearance in each of his 11 seasons as coach. The Bulldogs are 7-3 under him, including a 10-6 loss to Central Florida in last season’s Liberty Bowl.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.
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