Big Ten Legends Division Champs Accept Invitation from Outback Bowl
No. 12 MSU will face No. 18 Georgia on Jan. 2, 2012, in Tampa, Fla.
Dec. 4, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - For the third time in four years, Michigan State (10-3, 7-1 Big Ten) is headed to a New Year's Day bowl game, as the 12th-ranked Spartans have accepted an invitation to play No. 18 Georgia (10-3, 7-1 SEC) in the 26th-annual Outback Bowl on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. The Outback Bowl will be televised nationally by ABC with kickoff set for 1 p.m. EST.
The Spartans are bowl eligible for a school-record fifth consecutive year (2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl).
Michigan State fell just short of its earning its first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1988, losing to No. 15 Wisconsin, 42-39, in the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis, Ind. With a 31-17 victory at Northwestern, the Spartans (7-1) won the Big Ten Legends Division title outright, finishing one game ahead of Michigan (6-2) in the final standings. MSU secured a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, thanks to its 55-3 win over Indiana on Senior Day coupled with Nebraska's 45-17 loss at Michigan.
Michigan State has won 21 of its last 26 games, dating back to the beginning of the 2010 season, including a 14-2 record in Big Ten play. The 21 wins over the last two seasons is the highest two-year total in school history. In addition, the Spartans have won at least 10 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history.
Over the last four years, Michigan State has won more Big Ten games (24) than any other conference team. (Note: Ohio State also won 24 games, but had to vacate seven victories following the 2010 season.)
"We congratulate Mark Dantonio, his coaching staff and the student-athletes on opening a new era in conference history by winning the Legends Division and advancing to the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game," Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon said.
"We are excited to travel to Tampa for the first time and participate in the Outback Bowl," Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon said. "It's a great bowl with a strong tradition, and we look forward to a rematch against the University of Georgia."
"It's remarkable what Mark Dantonio has accomplished in five short seasons at Michigan State," MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis said. "The Spartans are making their third New Year's Day bowl appearance in the last four years. This promises to be a great match-up, as Georgia went 10-3 during the regular season and won the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division. The last time these two teams met in the 2009 Capital One Bowl the outcome wasn't decided until the fourth quarter, so we anticipate another competitive game.
"Florida is a special place for many Spartans, and we're excited about making our first bowl trip to the west coast of the Sunshine State. We also look forward to working closely with two Outback Bowl officials who have MSU ties. Outback Bowl CEO Jim McVay's father John was an assistant coach on Duffy Daugherty's staff in the early 1960s and Sales Director Jerry Kulig is a MSU graduate. We can't wait to gather in the streets of Tampa to help ring in the New Year."
"We're looking forward to having the opportunity to represent the Big Ten as Legends Division Champions in the Outback Bowl against a Top 20 opponent in Georgia, the SEC Eastern Division Champions," Dantonio said. "Our focus is on winning our last football game - the bowl game. It's important for our seniors - the winningest four-year class in Spartan history - to add a bowl victory to its long list of accomplishments.
"Obviously, we have a great deal of respect for Mark Richt and his football program. Georgia put together an impressive 10-game winning streak this season. This Outback Bowl game features two of the nation's top defensive teams (Georgia and MSU rank third and fifth, respectively, in total defense among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams). Offensively, Aaron Murray is a talented, young quarterback who directs an offensive attack that averages more than 400 total yards and 32 points per game.
"Three years ago, we played Georgia in the Capital One Bowl and that game went down to the wire, so fans can expect another close contest. We're excited for this opportunity."
Michigan State is making its 22nd postseason bowl appearance overall, including its first-ever trip to the Outback Bowl. The Spartans are 7-14 (.333) in bowl games, including a 0-2 record against Georgia (lost 34-27 in 1989 Gator Bowl; and 24-12 in 2009 Capital One Bowl). MSU has compiled a 5-8-1 record (.393) against current members of the Southeastern Conference (0-1 vs. Alabama, 0-1 vs. Auburn, 1-0 vs. Florida, 0-2 vs. Georgia, 2-2 vs. Kentucky, 0-1 vs. LSU and 2-1-1 vs. Mississippi State). The Spartans have lost their last five postseason games, with MSU's last bowl victory coming against Fresno State, 44-35, in the 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic.
"We are delighted to extend invitations to Michigan State University and the University of Georgia to play in this year's Outback Bowl and thrilled to host these two division champions from the Big Ten and SEC," Outback Bowl Chairman Dale Dignum said. "These teams feature exceptional talent, including two of the best quarterbacks in the nation, who should put on an exciting show on January 2. We look forward to hosting the Bulldogs once again, including Tampa's own Aaron Murray and Orson Charles, and to welcoming the Spartans team and fans to their first-ever Outback Bowl. We ensure them it will be a fabulous experience."
Michigan State receives an allotment of 11,500 tickets for the Outback Bowl. Tickets are priced at $75 (seats in MSU block) and $160 (seats in Club area) each. Fans may order Outback Bowl tickets online at msuspartans.com (click "tickets" and proceed to the Spartan Online Ticket Office) or by calling the Spartan Ticket Office (open weekdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.), locally at 355-1610 or outside the Lansing area at 1-800-GO-STATE.
For information about the MSU Alumni Association Official Bowl Tour, Spartan fans should call 888-471-3027 or visit msusportstours.com.