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The stats that mattered in Michigan State's comeback win over Georgia in the Outback Bowl, from Brandon Boykin's near-superfecta, to Michigan State's tackles for loss, to what the hell were you thinking, Coach Richt??
Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins struggled against a typically stout Georgia defense, which yielded just 79 rushing yards on 29 carries and intercepted Cousins three times, but hit Keith Nichol for a seven-yard touchdown to complete a second-half rally and give the Spartans the lead with 8:22 to play. Down seven in the final two minutes, Cousins drove the Spartans 85 yards for Le'Veon Bell's one-yard touchdown that forced overtime.
Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio, whose bowl losing streak ends at four, said Monday's win over a quality SEC opponent established Michigan State as an elite program, Matt Charboneau of The Detroit News reports.
"It's a big win against an SEC team that won its division, was 10-2 in the regular season," Dantonio said. "I think again it points toward us becoming an elite program in this league. There is not a football team we can not play with and not win against. We've beaten every football team in the Big Ten Conference in the last four years, so the standard has been set by the seniors."
For Georgia senior cornerback Brandon Boykin, who had 183 all-purpose yards, recorded a safety, and scored on a 92-yard punt return and 13-yard touchdown reception, Outback Most Valuable Player honors was no substitution for ending his college career with a loss, reports Joey Johnston of The Tampa Tribune.
"Honestly, I don't care about accolades,'' Boykin said. "I remember how I felt in that locker room and I'll remember that the rest of my life. Getting the MVP will symbolize how hard I tried to play. I gave it my all, no regrets. But I wanted a victory.''
Michigan State came back from a 16-0 halftime deficit to win the program's first bowl game under Mark D'Antonio, 33-30 over Georgia in triple overtime at the 2012 Outback Bowl.
Sparty nearly had six points in the first possession of the third frame, when Cousins' pass was mishandled by a wide-open Keshawn Martin on 3rd and 2 that would've given MSU the first down and possibly a touchdown.
Cousins finished with 300 yards on 27 of 50 passing for one touchdown and three interceptions in a game that featured seven consecutive Sparty drives of three-and-out before both teams caught fire on offense late.
Blair Walsh atoned for his 42-yard miss in the first overtime period by hitting a 47 yarder, to which Michigan State's Dan Conroy would answer from 35 yards out as the 2012 Outback Bowl is tied 30-30 headed into a third overtime.
Neither team managed to drive the ball, as Georgia's Aaron Murray threw two incompletions, ran for no gain and Georgia took a five-yard penalty. MSU's Kirk Cousins hit Keshawn Martin for seven yards, but the Sparty offense couldn't managed a first down before Conroy's kick.
The teams will now move to triple overtime, where by rule teams must attempt a two-point conversion following a touchdown score - if either can find the end zone.
The first period of overtime at the 2012 Outback Bowl ended with no score, as Georgia's Blair Walsh missed a 42-yard field goal attempt wide right after the Bulldogs intercepted Michigan State's Kirk Cousins for the third time today.
Both defenses held their regulation form, as Michigan State moved the ball only three yards on a Le'Veon Bell rush before the Cousins interception to the Dawgs' Bacarri Rambo.Georgia's Carlton Thomas managed a two yard run before Aaron Murray would be hit for a two-yard loss. Georgia head coach Mark Richt elected for Walsh to kick on third and 10, and after a Michigan timeout, Walsh's kick just barely fell right.
Michigan State has tied the 2012 Outback Bowl with Georgia 27-27 with an 85-yard last minute drive capped by a Le'Veon Bell touchdown run from less than a yard out. Michigan State's Dan Conroy would hit the game tying point after despite a low snap
Starting form their own 15-yard-line, quarterback Kirk Cousins hit three consecutive passes totaling 44 yards, and then made the play of the drive using his feet, as he scrambled 20 yards to set up the Spartans in the Georgia red zone. MSU almost tied the game when Cousins hit Keshawn Martin on a crossing pattern that was ruled a touchdown, but overturned on review when video evidence showed Martin's knee was clearly down on the one-yard-line of UGA.
Michigan State's only lead of the game lasted for just one drive, as Georgia is now ahead 27-20 after scoring its first touchdown of the second half on pass from Aaron Murray to senior Brandon Boykin, who has now scored on a punt return, touchdown catch and created a safety in the 2012 Outback Bowl:
Kirk Cousins threw a huge interception that could've given Georgia back the momentum Michigan State's offense had wrestled back in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs only managed a field goal after this return by Shawn Williams, and Sparty would drive back down the field for a touchdown:
After the Bulldogs extended their lead 19-14 and answered two MSU third quarter touchdowns, Cousins orchestrated a four play, 49-yard drive anchored by a trick screen to senior tight end Brian Linthicum for 50 yards. Two plays later Cousins hit senior wide receiver Keith Nichol on a seven yard touchdown pass.
Chronology mars this splendid dance from UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, but the notoriously grumpy Grantham got some modicum of air celebrating Wililams' interception. No word if this is considered simple assault based on Grantham's previous record:
Georgia's defense scored the first points of the day to start a 16-0 run, and one drive after Michigan State's offense finally got on the board, the Spartan defense returned an Aaron Murray interception to give MSU its second touchdown of the third quarter. The Bulldogs now lead by only two, 16-14.
Both teams traded punts after the Spartans scored to cut the lead 16-8, then Murray was picked off by MSU's Darqueze Dennard for a 38-yard touchdown return, the second interception of Murray by Dennard on the day, and in the third quarter.
Georgia has managed only 44 yards of total offense in the third quarter, while Sparty's 77 yards has matched and exceed their entire first half output.
Michigan State's offense had managed a total of only 81 yards through three quarters against Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl until Kirk Cousins led a 48-yard, nine play drive ending with a Le'Veon Bell touchdown run followed by a two-point conversion from Cousins to a wide open Brian Linthicum to cut Georgia's lead in half, 19-8.
The touchdown drive started on the Georgia 48-yard-line after Aaron Murray was intercepted by Darqueze Dennard, the Bulldogs' first turnover today. Michigan State's scoring effort featured three first downs, more than double the two total first downs MSU had managed in nine previous drives. It was also the longest drive for the Spartans on the day, as eight of the Spartans's previous drives yielded less than ten total yards.
Following the score, MSU amped up the pressure on Georgia's offense, increasing their blitzes to force a three-and-out and take back possession. The Bulldogs are also playing without oft-injured freshman tailback Isaiah Crowell, who was ruled out for the second half after re-injuring his ankle. He finishes the game with three yards on three carries.
Georgia and Michigan State had combined to throw one hell of a 2-0 defensive struggle through most of the first half, until the Bulldogs broke two big plays - an 80-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Murray to Tavarres King and a 92-yard punt return by Brandon Boykin late in the second quarter - and now lead 19-0. Boykin has bookended the Bulldogs' scoring efforts, adding this special teams score to his first quarter tackle for a safety:
In a battle of top rated defense, Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has the early advantage. The Spartans have only two first downs, 72 total yards (only four rushing) and are 1-of-8 on third down conversion attempts. Kirk Cousins is 9-of-15 for 68 yards for a Spartan offense that's been outscored in the first half after five consecutive 30-plus point games.
Georgia's success has come solely on big, bold plays - aside from the safety, both scores have come on major yardage "big" plays, and one on special teams. In addition to their touchdown connection, Murray hit King for a 60-yard pass in the first quarter, and minus those two plays, UGA only has 66 total yards of offense.
Aaron Murray broke a brutally defensive struggle between Michigan State and Georgia with a perfectly thrown 80-yard touchdown pass to Taverres King to give the Bulldogs a 9-0 lead late in the second quarter of the 2012 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The combination of Murray to King has been almost all of the offense this bowl game has seen - King has four receptions for 146 yards, while the rest of the Georgia offense only has 60 total yards in almost two quarters. Assisted by King's big day, Murray has been a serviceable 13 of 16 for 185 yards against an agressive Spartan defense, which is cause to celebrate.
After one quarter at Raymond James Stadium, both Georgia and Michigan State have traded big defensive stops, and the score remains 2-0 Bulldogs after a safety by UGA's Brandon Boykin.
The Spartans have 32 yards of total offense, including -4 rushing. Following the Boykin safety of Spartans receiver Keshown Martin, Georgia drove 49 yards in eight plays, but were stopped on a 4th down conversion on the Michigan State five-yard-line when running back Ken Malcome was stuffed in the middle by an excited Jerel Worthy.
The Spartans would punt back Georgia just seven plays later on a 4th and 21, and Georgia would respond with the best looking offense play of the quarter, a 60-yard pass from Aaron Murray to Tavarres King (see below). However, the Dogs would also fail to score when Murray would fumble the ball at the Spartan's 41-yard-line.
Georgia has set the defensive tone early in the 2012 Outback Bowl with a safety, after a Kirk Cousins pass to Keshon Martin couldn't get out of the end zone. Defensive back Brandon Boykin made the play for the Bulldogs, and then went to the sidelines briefly to be checked out by trainers. ESPN's Jenn Brown reported that Boykin's mouth was being looked at, after an injury earlier in the year in which he lost a few teeth.
Michigan State has a chance to redeem itself after last year's dreadful Capital One Bowl performance against Alabama. Can they hang with an athletic, if offensively challenged, squad of Georgia Bulldogs?
The 2012 Outback Bowl should have its name changed to the Bounceback Bowl.
The Georgia Bulldogs and Michigan State Spartans, two teams that fell short in their respective conference championship games, will look to end the season on a high note at the other's expense Monday.
Georgia won 10 straight games overall and seven straight SEC games before running into a buzzsaw in a 42-10 loss to No. 1 LSU in the SEC Championship. Meanwhile, Michigan State was the victim on conference realignment. Because of the addition of Nebraska into the Big Ten, the Spartans had to play in the conference's first championship game instead of automatically qualifying for the Rose Bowl. Michigan State lost the title game to Wisconsin 42-39 and the chance to smell the roses.
Time: January 2, 2012 at 1 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida.
TV Schedule: ABC
Odds: Michigan State is favored by 3
The 2012 Outback Bowl doesn't have the name recognition of most college football bowls, but considering it's being played in January, there's little doubt it'll be a solid game to watch. The Michigan State Spartans and Georgia Bulldogs both ran through their respective divisions before being stopped in the conference championship game, meaning both teams will enter Monday afternoon's game with a bad taste in their mouth.
The Spartans ended the season with a 10-3 record, but their loss in the Big Ten conference championship to the Wisconsin Badgers certainly isn't the way quarterback Kirk Cousins and the Spartans' senior class is going to want to be remembered. It will likely be the Michigan State defense that plays a pivotal role in the contest, however, as they ended the season as the ninth-ranked defense in college football.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, were a bit shaky in the early goings of this season as they dropped their first two contests. The SEC team then rebounded with 10 straight victories before falling to the top-ranked LSU Tigers in the conference championship game. Quarterback Aaron Murray along with wide receivers Tavarres King and Orson Charles are going to have to be synced perfectly if the Bulldogs are going to bring in the new year with a 'W.'
It will be the third time the two teams have met, and while the Bulldogs have won the previous two contests, there's little doubt Michigan State has the talent to turn the tides this season.
The Georgia Bulldogs will be making the fifth Outback Bowl appearance in school history when they take on the Michigan State Spartans on Jan 2nd. The game should be evenly matched, but if the Bulldogs have one advantage it's history. Georgia has gone 3-1 all-time in in the Outback Bowl, including three straight victories over Big Ten opponents. Michigan State, meanwhile, is making its first ever appearance in the bowl game.
Georgia's last victory came in 2005 when they beat the Wisconsin Badgers 24-21, giving David Greene a then record 42nd win to make him the winningest quarterback in NCAA history. Five years earlier, the Bulldogs beat Drew Brees and the Purdue Boilermakers, overcoming a 19-0 deficit to send the game to overtime. Purdue kicker Travis Dosch badly missed a 43-yard field goal try on the Boilermakers' first possession, setting up Georgia kicker Hap Hines for the 19-yard game-winning try when the Bulldogs took the ball over.
No, the Outback Bowl is most certainly not a BCS game. There's no reason in pretending otherwise. But for either Michigan State or Georgia, a win in this game will be the exclamation point on their return to prominence.
For Michigan State (10-3), it's more of a continuation from what was started last season. Mark Dantonio led the Spartans to their first Top 15 ranking since Nick Saban led them to a No. 9 ranking in 1999. But despite finishing tied for the Big Ten title, the Spartans' season ended on a down night as they were crushed 49-7 by Alabama in the Capital One Bowl. In fact, the Spartans will be looking for their first bowl win of the Dantonio era and their first since 2001 (Silicon Valley Bowl).
This year has not been an out-and-out success, as the loss to No. 15 Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship Game can attest, but it has been a continuation of what started in 2007 when Dantonio took over. The Spartans have gone 2-2 against teams ranked in the Top 15. Included in those wins was one over arch-rival Michigan, who came into their game ranked No. 11. The Spartans also beat Wisconsin in their first meeting, back when the Badgers were ranked No. 6 in the country.
The Spartans have done all this with a relatively balanced attack and a stellar defense. Michigan State ranks 44th in passing yards per game (247.0), 76th in rushing (142.9) and had the ninth best scoring defense (17.5). Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been outstanding, completing more than 65 percent of his passes for the second straight year, throwing for 3,016 yards and tossing 24 touchdowns to just seven interceptions.
The Bulldogs (10-3) are basically like the slightly more balanced cousin. After barely qualifying for a bowl last year, Mark Richt got Georgia right back to where he was accustomed to them being.
A rough start to the season that saw the Bulldogs lose two straight, they would eventually reel off 10 straight wins before falling to No. 1-ranked LSU in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs ended up with the 39th best offense (413.9 yards per game) and the 17th best scoring defense (19.6 points per game). Quarterback Aaron Murray led the attack with 33 touchdown passes, although the sophomore did toss 12 interceptions.
This game will be a rematch of the 2009 Capital One Bowl in which Georgia won 24-12. The Bulldogs also won the only other previous meeting.
The 2012 Outback Bowl matches up the Michigan State Spartans and the Georgia Bulldogs. The teams have met just twice before, both times in bowl games and both times with the Bulldogs victorious. Both games were also kind of "last hurrah" games for the Bulldogs. In the 1989 Gator Bowl match up it was Vince Dooley's last game as the Georgia head coach and in the 2009 Capital One Bowl is was quarterback Matt Stafford's last game.
The Bulldogs also head into the game sporting an undefeated record against the Big Ten since their 1957 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor. The Bulldogs are also 3-0 against Big Ten teams in bowl games with Mark Richt as the head coach.
For more on the Georgia Bulldogs visit SB Nation's Bulldogs blog Dawg Sports. For more on the Michigan State Spartans visit SB Nation's Spartans blog The Only Colors. Also stay tuned to SB Nation’s 2011 college football bowl game bids coverage.
@ajcuga Michigan State AD says at football banquet tonight it's UGA vs. MSU in Outback, according to tweet by MSU alumni assoc. official.
The Outback Bowl is played annually at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Outback Bowl is not the first bowl game in Tampa however, as the Cigar Bowl was played in downtown Tampa from 1947-1954. Originally the bowl was called the Hall of Fame Bowl from 1986-1994 before Outback Steakhouse became the title sponsor. The game regularly matches up the Big Ten against the SEC and is typically played on January 1st, but will be played on Monday this year because it falls on a Sunday.
The game will be broadcast live on ABC and will be called by part of the Monday Night Football crew, Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden & Lisa Salters.
Game date, time:1:00 pm ET, Monday, January 2nd
Location: Tampa, Florida
TV channel: ABC
2010 winner and loser: Florida, Penn State
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