Dec. 5, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - For the second time in three years, Michigan State (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) is headed to a New Year's Day bowl game, as the seventh-ranked Spartans have accepted an invitation to play No. 15 Alabama (9-3, 5-3 SEC) in the 65th-annual Capital One Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011, in Orlando, Fla. The Capital One Bowl will be televised nationally by ESPN with kickoff set for 1 p.m. EST.
Michigan State, which won a school-record 11 games in 2010 and a share of its first Big Ten Championship since 1990, is making its fourth-straight postseason bowl appearance for the first time since 1987-90, matching the longest bowl streak in school history. Big Ten Coach of the Year Mark Dantonio becomes the first coach in MSU history to earn a postseason bowl bid in each of his first four seasons.
"We congratulate Mark Dantonio, his coaching staff and the student-athletes in bringing home Michigan State's first Big Ten football championship in 20 years," Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon said. "It certainly has created a buzz around campus, throughout the state and indeed across the country. Now, we look forward to following our Big Ten Championship team to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl against Alabama.
"Our team and fans always have a great bowl experience in Orlando. So with nearly 15,000 alumni living in Florida, we look forward to reconnecting with many of them for a memorable New Year's Day celebration."
"We're excited about heading back to Orlando, but this time we're representing the Big Ten as conference champions," MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis said. "In four years, Mark Dantonio has built a Top 10 football program, and we expect Spartan Nation to turn out in record numbers for this matchup against Alabama in Orlando.
"There are so many storylines in this game, especially with the coaching connections between Michigan State and Alabama, that everyone anticipates this being one of the highest-rated bowl games."
Michigan State is making its 21st postseason bowl appearance overall, including its third trip to the Capital One Bowl (formerly known as Florida Citrus and Tangerine Bowls). The Spartans are 7-13 (.350) in bowl games, including a 1-1 record in previous Capital One Bowl appearances (defeated No. 10 Florida, 37-34, in 2000; lost to No. 16 Georgia, 24-12, in 2009). MSU has lost its last four postseason games, with the Spartans' last bowl victory coming against Fresno State, 44-35, in the 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic.
The 2011 Capital One Bowl marks the first-ever meeting between Michigan State and Alabama. The Spartans have compiled a 5-7-1 record (.423) against current members of the Southeastern Conference (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).
"We're extremely excited about having the opportunity to represent the Big Ten as conference champions in the Capital One Bowl against Alabama," Dantonio said. "For four years, we talked about what it takes to become a champion, and now that the program has arrived at that point, we must try to take the next step. At 11-1, we're not satisfied. 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 their impressive list of accomplishments.
"Obviously, I have a great deal of respect for Nick Saban and the Alabama football program. Greg McElroy, who ranks sixth nationally in pass efficiency, is a proven winner at quarterback. Alabama also features two outstanding running backs in Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, and an explosive playmaker in wide receiver Julio Jones. On the other side of the ball, Alabama ranks among the nation's top 10 in scoring defense, total defense and pass efficiency defense.
"We have a lot to play for, so we're excited about the opportunity to play Alabama in the Capital One Bowl."
Michigan State receives an allotment of 12,500 tickets for the Capital One Bowl. Tickets are priced at $80 and $90 each. Fans may order Capital One 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.
"We are very excited to stage the first meeting between these two tradition-rich programs here in Orlando," said Selection Committee Chairman Chuck Beverly. "Their success on the field this year and passionate fan bases will make this a very popular ticket."
For information about the MSU Alumni Association Official Bowl Tour, Spartan fans should call 888-471-3027 or visit msusportstours.com.