Outback Bowl 2012: Will Mark Richt Get a Head Start for 2012 or the Hot Seat?

Johnathan CaceCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2012

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 12:  Head coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs shakes hands with head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers after their 45-7 win at Sanford Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Whenever the coaching hot seat topic comes up in college football, Georgia’s Mark Richt always seems to get mentioned.

He has put some great players into the NFL in recent years and has won the SEC East six times, winning the conference as a whole twice. He also has a .741 winning percentage as a head coach.

The Bulldogs have a tough game against an underrated Michigan State team, who was a couple of plays away from being in the Rose Bowl.

The team is already starting to become a trendy pick to upset LSU or Alabama next year because of all of the returning talent. With a win today, Georgia should get a great head start for the 2012 season.

The defense has been nothing short of spectacular this season, especially after struggling early against Boise State and South Carolina. The Bulldogs allowed 42 points to LSU, but had multiple dropped passes, dominated the time of possession and actually outgained the Tigers 296 to 237 yards.

They haven’t given up more than 20 points since the opening weeks of the season.

The thing is, they haven’t played a really tough schedule. The only team ranked in the final BCS Poll that they beat was No. 25 Auburn, and Georgia gave up at least 35 points in each of their three losses.

Picking this game is tough, because Michigan State is really a hit or miss team, getting dominated by Notre Dame and Nebraska but scoring 76 points against Wisconsin. At the end of the day, the best way to pick this game is by going with history, and that is squarely with Mark Richt and the SEC. It is the best conference in college football, and under Richt, the Bulldogs are 7-3 in bowl games, with their last two losses coming by a combined seven points.

Whether they cover the three-point spread is certainly up in the air, but odds are that Georgia will start off 2012 with a win.