Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Michigan St vs Georgia 2012 Outback Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 1/2/12: The Michigan State Spartans (10-3) came within a game of winning the Big Ten, and the Georgia Bulldogs (10-3) did the same in the SEC. However, losses in their conference title games have the two teams facing off Monday in the Outback Bowl. While both programs ultimately want bigger and better things, bragging rights over another top conference and an 11-win season aren’t terrible prizes to play for. The Bulldogs enter the matchup as three-point favorites.
Both teams are among the more balanced in the country. The Spartans and Bulldogs both average more than 30 points per game on offense and fewer than 20 points per game on defense. Thanks to a better running game, Georgia has the slight edge on the offensive side of the football. Meanwhile, Michigan State’s powerful defensive line gives the Spartans a similar edge on the defense. Neither side has a true weak point, creating the opportunity for one of the better bowl games on the schedule.
Quarterback play is going to be crucial to the success of both sides. Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins finished the year with more than 3,000 passing yards and was one of the more efficient signal callers in the country. He tossed 24 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions and completed 65 percent of his pass. Georgia will counter with Aaron Murray. The sophomore is already being looked at as a top NFL prospect, and he set a school record this year with 33 touchdown passes.
The challenge for Murray is going to be handling the pass rush of the Spartans. In the SEC title game, he struggled to find a rhythm and even turned the ball over against the fierce LSU pressure. He can’t afford a repeat performance if the Bulldogs are going to win Monday. Cousins will have his work cut out for him as well, and he will have to pick his spots against a stout Georgia secondary.
Fortunately for both QBs, both teams have solid options to turn to in the backfield. Michigan State’s LaVon Bell has 900 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Isaiah Crowell has posted similar numbers for the Bulldogs, running for 847 yards. Both teams will look to use the ground game to set up the play-action pass and keep the opposing defense off balance. Murray and Cousins will have the spotlight, but Crowell and Bell could end up deciding the outcome if either player has a big game.
An X-factor in the matchup could be Michigan State receiver B.J. Cunningham. He is the most-productive receiver in Spartans’ history, and he has more than 1,200 yards and 12 scores this season. He is the most polished player at the position for either side, and he has the ability to make plays over the middle or stretch the field. If the Georgia secondary can’t control Cunningham, the Spartans’ offense could prove too much for the Bulldogs to handle.
In the end, the size and speed of the Georgia offensive and defensive lines will likely be tough for the Spartans to handle. The Spartans’ worst defensive performances came against the big offensive line of the Wisconsin Badgers, and the Bulldogs’ front line is a physical unit as well. The Big Ten as a whole has had its issues handling the speed of SEC teams in the past, and Michigan State is going to be tested on both sides of the ball. Both teams have enough firepower to put points on the board, but Murray and the Georgia offense should get the job done.
Prediction: Georgia Bulldogs (-3) Cover the Spread
Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Georgia -3 to cover the spread
|2012 Outback Bowl: Michigan St vs Georgia
Time: 1 PM EST on ABC
Vegas Odds – Favorite: Georgia -3 Total: Over/Under 50.5
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