Jan 1., 1 p.m., (ABC)
Michigan State take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: Michigan State will play in a January bowl game for the first time in nine seasons, and the Spartans can take an important step in their evolution by knocking off preseason No. 1 Georgia.
The Spartans had to be encouraged after watching Georgia's last performance, in which the Bulldogs surrendered 409 rushing yards in a loss to Georgia Tech. Running the ball is what Michigan State does best, and the Spartans boast one of the nation's top backs in senior Javon Ringer, who leads FBS in carries (370) and ranks third in rushing average (132.5 ypg).
Georgia undoubtedly will load up to try and stop Ringer, so Spartans senior quarterback Brian Hoyer needs to step up. Hoyer struggled the last time he stepped on the field at Citrus Bowl Stadium, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble in the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl.
Michigan State does a good job of controlling the clock, and it will need to do whatever possible to keep Georgia's offense off the field.
The Spartans defense has performed well for most of the season, but it really struggled against elite offensive skill players from Cal, Ohio State and Penn State. Georgia's dynamic backfield of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno will test Michigan State, which was mediocre statistically.
Georgia take by SEC blogger Chris Low: There was so much hype for Georgia in the preseason that it was going to be impossible to live up to all the gaudy expectations.
The Bulldogs went into the season ranked No. 1 in the polls, but even before they lost their first game, there was trouble. Starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant went down with a season-ending knee injury during a scrimmage.
It was the start of an injury plague that tormented the Bulldogs (9-3) all season long. They went from the national championship race and SEC championship race to the middle of the Eastern Division standings.
They head into their Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl matchup with Michigan State on the heels of their most disappointing game of the season. Georgia Tech rolled up 409 yards rushing with its option offense and beat Georgia 45-42 on Senior Day at Sanford Stadium. Think the Spartans might give it to Javon Ringer a few tiimes?
Poor tackling was the norm for the Bulldogs this season, and they ended the regular season by giving up 38 or more points in four of their last five games.
The problems on defense wasted one of the more complete efforts by a Georgia offense in a long time. Even coach Mark Richt admitted that threesomes like Matthew Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and A.J. Green don't come around every year.