Outback Bowl 2012: 5 Things Michigan State Needs to Improve on in 2012

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Outback Bowl 2012: 5 Things Michigan State Needs to Improve on in 2012
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

If it were not for the video game-esque Alamo Bowl, the 2012 Outback Bowl might have been remembered as the best game of the 2011 postseason.

Michigan State's 33-30 3OT victory over Georgia had just about everything you could ask for: a safety, a punt return for a touchdown, big plays, career-defining clutch drives and a blocked kick to seal it for Sparty.

Despite being harassed by a prototypical lighting-fast SEC defense all game long and throwing three interceptions, Spartans QB Kirk Cousins stepped up in the biggest moment. He led Michigan State on a game-tying 10-play, 85-yard drive with less than two minutes to play to force the extra session. After the Spartans took a three-point lead in the third OT, Michigan State blocked a tying field goal attempt to win the Outback Bowl and all the Bloomin' Onions that go with it.

The careers of Cousins as well as other stars B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol were capped with the first Spartan bowl win of the Mark Dantonio era. Even better, it came against a tough SEC opponent in a time when the SEC is king of college football.

Michigan State finished off its second consecutive 11-win season and came up just short of a second straight Big Ten Title after a thrilling conference championship game a few weeks ago.

But it is never too soon to look ahead, and the Spartans and their fans have plenty to be optimistic about heading into 2012. In order to maintain their newfound Big Ten prominence and perhaps even take the next step on a national level, there are a few things the Spartans must accomplish next season. 

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