Capital One Bowl
(16) Georgia Bulldogs Vs. (19) Michigan State Spartans
1 p.m. EST
Spread: UGA -8.0
How they got here...
The Georgia Bulldogs began the season as the preseason No. 1 team in the nation. That ranking means absolutely nothing!
Georgia scored over 100 points combined in their first two games—and fell to the No. 3 spot. So much for being No. 1.
This was not to be the year Georgia envisioned. Despite the three losses, the Dawgs can still wrap up 2008 with 10 wins. That would be a nice way to bring in the new year.
The Michigan State Spartans started the year with a tough loss to Cal, but quickly rebounded. Six straight wins would follow before they battled Ohio State.
The Spartans could not get past Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Penn State, but a bowl win over Georgia, and a 10-win season, will help ease that pain.
Despite the three-loss season that dampened spirits in Athens, the Dawgs had several players who shined all year.
Matthew Stafford passed for over 3,200 yards with 22 TDs while completing 61 percent of his passes. Stafford had plenty of weapons if he decided to put the ball in the air.
Senior Mohamed Massaquoi brought in 57 receptions for 910 yards and eight TDs, while freshman sensation AJ Green caught 55 passes for 951 yards. Green also had eight touchdown catches.
Then there was Knowshon Moreno, who hurdled his way to 1,338 yards rushing and 16 TDs. Offensively, Georgia has weapons!
Javon Ringer was the man for the Spartans this season. Ringer led the way with 1,590 yards rushing and 21 TDs.
When Ringer was running wild, the Spartans were putting up the "W's," but when he failed to come up big, the Spartans were stuck in neutral.
Michigan State also has three wide receivers who caught 30 or more passes. Blair White, BJ Cunningham, and Mark Dell give senior QB Brian Hoyer plenty of targets.
Georgia wins if...
The Spartans' defense believes that practicing against Javon Ringer each week has more than prepared them to stop Knowshon Moreno. However, the statistics say otherwise.
The Spartans' defense has been run over by most of the big-name backs they've faced. Cal and Wisconsin had two backs each eclipse the 100-yard mark against the Spartans.
Beanie Wells (140 yards), Shonn Greene (157 yards), and Tyrell Sutton (139 yards) all had big days against the Michigan State defense. If Knowshon Moreno gets to the century mark on the ground, the Dawgs will win.
Likewise, Georgia's defense has had its share of problems this season. Early in the year, the Dawgs could stop the run but could not slow down anyone's passing attack.
As the year progressed, the Dawgs' D had some dog days. Georgia Tech and the triple option rushed for over 400 yards. That is not a good taste to have in your mouth for the last five weeks.
If the Dawgs have used these past few weeks wisely, and they can find a way to at least slow down Javon Ringer, the Dawgs could win big.
Michigan State wins if...
Ringer has a big day. Multiple touchdowns, over 100 yards, that kind of day. Has to keep the Georgia defense honest. This also becomes an issue of clock control. Ringer having a big day means that Moreno and Stafford will be sitting on the bench, and that helps the Spartan defense.
It comes down to kicking. Brett Swenson is possibly the most underrated kicker in the country, and he had a huge year for the Green and White. A good, accurate leg. He's no stranger to pressure situations either, hitting a field goal in the dying seconds against Wisconsin to win the game.
Greg Jones' predictions ring true. Jones said earlier in the week that the Spartans weren't afraid of Georgia's speed because they practice against Javon Ringer every day.
The Spartan defense has looked suspect against the class of the Big Ten this season, but if the defense comes out focused and confident, you never know what could happen.
Obviously, this game features two of the most exciting running backs in college football. Moreno and Ringer could give us a show for the ages. What jumps out at me is this: Georgia appears to have more offensive weapons.
If Moreno is off his game, Stafford, Green, Massaquoi, and company can take up the slack. I do not believe that the same can be said of State. If Ringer can't dominate the game, I don't believe Brian Hoyer can carry the Spartans.
Of course, I didn't think JPW could carry 'Bama over Georgia, either! This is college football, so anything can happen. But I do like Georgia to cover in this one.
My Pick: Georgia
Here's how the rest of the B/R Bowl Series experts see this one:
Trey Bradley - UGA
Michael Cline - UGA
Justin Goar - UGA
MiamiMitch - UGA
Lisa Horne - Mich State
David Wunderlich - UGA
Brian Scott - UGA