No. 17 Michigan State Spartans vs. No. 16 Georgia Bulldogs
Monday, 1/2/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV: ABC
Opening Point Spread: Georgia -3
Current Betting Line: Georgia -3
Opening Total: 51
Current Total: 50
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
Michigan State is bowl eligible for a school-record fifth consecutive year and Mark Dantonio is the first coach in program history to accomplish that particular feat. The Spartans are coming off a disappointing 42-39 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Conference championship, which may actually prove to be difficult to get over in preparing for a Southeastern Conference opponent. “Hopefully that’s gone by us by now,” stated Dantonio last week. Michigan State is 7-14 in bowl games, including an 0-2 mark when taking on Monday’s opponent.
The Spartans have compiled a 5-8-1 record against current members of the Southeastern Conference and have faced eight ranked foes in their last nine bowl appearances. Michigan State will have 17 seniors making their final appearances in a uniform, posting a school-record 36 wins. Quarterback Kirk Cousins is the winningest signal-caller in school history, compiling a 26-12 record in 38 career starts, including a 21-5 mark since the beginning of the 2010 campaign. His main target is fifth-year senior B.J. Cunningham, who is the program’s all-time leader with 211 receptions and 3,020 receiving yards.
Georgia dropped its first two games of the season before rattling off a 10-game win streak that was eventually snapped by the LSU Tigers in the SEC championship game. The Bulldogs were handed a 42-10 defeat in that particular contest as 11.5-point neutral-site underdogs, while going ‘over’ the posted total of 46.5. Head coach Mark Richt gave his players and staff some time off after the defeat, hoping that it rejuvenates his squad. Georgia will play its 15th consecutive bowl game and has tallied a 4-1 ATS mark in such contests.
The Bulldogs are hoping that sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray will bounce back from a forgettable effort last time out, completing just 16 of 40 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. Georgia ended the regular season ranked third in gaining 413.8 yards per game offensively, but will be tested against a stop unit that ranks fifth nationally in surrendering just 272.7 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, the program certainly has a fearsome defensive unit of its own, giving up just 268.5 yards per game.
Bettors will likely back the Bulldogs due to their 4-0 ATS mark as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points, while the Spartans are 3-8 ATS as an underdog in the same range.
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