The 2009 Capital One Bowl will pit your Georgia Bulldogs against the Spartans of Michigan State. The two teams arrive in Orlando from opposite directions. Coach Mark Dantonio leads MSU to its first New Year's Day bowl since Nick Saban's last year in East Lansing. Georgia, meanwhile, will finish a bittersweet season in Orlando after a disappointing 9-3 campaign. Here are a few initial glances at the Spartans.
A look at the schedule doesn't impress. State has beat a single currently ranked team, #22 Northwestern. They beat only three teams with records better than .500, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Northwestern. When they met ranked competition, they got thumped, losing by 38 to Ohio State at home and by 31 at Penn State.
While the Spartans may not have an overwhelming body of work this season, they do have one of the finest rushers in the country. Javon Ringer (pictured above) has 1,590 rushing yards this season, which is good enough for third best in the nation. Plus, he's never fumbled in his college career. Ringer's a real talent, but he racked those yards up on a whopping 370 carries, first in the nation by 64 carries. Ringer isn't in the top 100 in the country in yards per carry. He's still an absolute beast. In State's three losses, Ringer was held to under a hundred yards and had three of his four worst rushing performances of his year. Stopping Ringer will be Willie's primary objective.
Statistically, their defense gives up an average of 21.9 points per contest. That's good enough for #40 nationally, which is respectable. The problem for Pat Narduzzi's crew is yardage. The Spartan total defense numbers are worse than every BCS team we played this year. Worse than Arizona State. Worse than LSU. Worse than Kentucky.
Michigan State is excited about the bid. Just like us, the Spartans had chances for national, showcase wins this year and blew them badly. Just like us, they lost to the best two teams in their conference and a legitimate out of conference foe. State has their final chance for a signature win and they are excited. For Georgia, the Capital One bowl, considering the preseason hype, is likely a huge letdown. Analysts love to talk about how excited a team is about their bowl destination when discussing picks. If you care about who the talking heads pick, expect several to predict a Spartan win.