December 04, 2011 Tampa, FL—The Michigan State Spartans and Georgia Bulldogs will square-off in the Outback Bowl on January 2nd in Tampa, bowl officials announced today. It is a match-up of two 10 win Division Champions from two of the most prestigious conferences in college football – the SEC and Big Ten. The Spartans are ranked 12th in the AP Poll while the Bulldogs are ranked 18th.
“We are delighted to extend invitations to Michigan State University and the University of Georgia to play in this year’s Outback Bowl and thrilled to host these two Division Champions from the Big Ten and SEC,” said Outback Bowl Chairman Dale Dignum. “These teams feature exceptional talent, including two of the best quarterbacks in the nation, who should put on an exciting show on January 2nd. We look forward to hosting the Bulldogs once again, including Tampa’s own Aaron Murray and Orson Charles, and to welcoming the Spartans team and fans to their first-ever Outback Bowl. We ensure them it will be a fabulous experience.”
“I’m really excited for our team and especially our seniors with the opportunity to play in Tampa which is one of the premier January bowl games,” said UGA head coach Mark Richt. “We were fortunate to play in this game back in 2005 and had a terrific experience. This will be the first time the members of our team have the opportunity to play in Tampa and playing a top quality opponent like Michigan State will be a challenge we’ll look forward to.”
“We are delighted with the selection of our team to represent the Southeastern Conference in the Outback Bowl,” said UGA Director of Athletics Greg McGarity. “It’s a great destination for our student-athletes and our fans --- warm weather, wonderful attractions, a first class stadium, and we look forward to competing against a great Michigan State team. Our fans have been a big part of our success this season and I’m confident they will support the team with their attendance in this bowl game.”
“It’s remarkable what Mark Dantonio has accomplished in five short seasons at Michigan State,” MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis said. “The Spartans are making their third New Year’s Day bowl appearance in the last four years. This promises to be a great match-up, as Georgia went 10-3 during the regular season and won the Southeastern Conference’s Eastern Division. The last time these two teams met in the 2009 Capital One Bowl the outcome wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter, so we anticipate another competitive game.
“Florida is a special place for many Spartans, and we’re excited about making our first bowl trip to the west coast of the Sunshine State. We also look forward to working closely with two Outback Bowl officials who have MSU ties. Outback Bowl CEO Jim McVay’s father John was an assistant coach on Duffy Daugherty’s staff in the early 1960s and Sales Director Jerry Kulig is a MSU graduate. We can’t wait to gather in the streets of Tampa to help ring in the New Year.”
“We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to represent the Big Ten as Legends Division Champions in the Outback Bowl against a Top 20 opponent in Georgia, the SEC Eastern Division Champions,” Dantonio said. “Our focus is on winning our last football game – the bowl game. It’s important for our seniors – the winningest four-year class in Spartan history – to add a bowl victory to its long list of accomplishments.
“Obviously, we have a great deal of respect for Mark Richt and his football program. Georgia put together an impressive 10-game winning streak this season. This Outback Bowl game features two of the nation’s top defensive teams (Georgia and MSU rank third and fifth, respectively, in total defense among NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams). Offensively, Aaron Murray is a talented, young quarterback who directs an offensive attack that averages more than 400 total yards and 32 points per game.
“Three years ago, we played Georgia in the Capital One Bowl and that game went down to the wire, so fans can expect another close contest. We’re excited for this opportunity.”
The Outback Bowl will be played on January 2nd at 1:00 PM at Raymond James Stadium. Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster at (813) 287-8844 or 1-800-745-3000 and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets can also be purchased at any Ticketmaster outlet in the state of Florida.
For information on limited priority seating through a bowl membership package call the Outback Bowl office directly at (813) 874-BOWL or go to the bowl web site at www.outbackbowl.com for details.
press release via Outback Bowl