2012 Outback Bowl: With Win, Michigan State Is No Longer Same Old Spartans

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2012

TMAPA, FL - JANUARY 02: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Michigan State Spartans warms up before playing the Georgia Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl January 2, 2012 at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

One thing that has always plagued the Spartans is the tag of being the "Same old Spartans." Over the past couple of decades, the Spartans would come into the season with some hype or hope only to find new and creative ways to get in their own way.

Since Mark Dantonio arrived in East Lansing, that tag and attitude has quickly disappeared. 

Over the past two years, Michigan State has been one of the top programs in the Big Ten and was only a play or two away from heading to the Rose Bowl this year. 

Last year, the Spartans found themselves in a three-way tie for the conference title and were left on the short end of a tie-breaking system that placed them out of the BCS and in a bowl game with Alabama. The result was a Crimson Tide beating that finished an otherwise positive year.

Today, Michigan State headed to the Outback Bowl and again met up with another SEC team. 

Like last year, Michigan State found themselves on the wrong end of a score at the half and appeared to be heading out like they did last year, but that is not how things played out this year. 

This year, Michigan State came out in the second half and fought back with a late score that sent the game to overtime. In overtime, both defenses came up large, but ultimately, a missed field goal in triple-overtime gave Michigan State the win, 33-30.

This marked the first bowl win for Dantonio and was a huge win for the seniors that were leaving. Above all else, it marked a possible change in the Michigan State program and showed that they could have some staying power at the top of the Big Ten.