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Sunday, December 7, 2008
Capital One Bowl: Michigan State (9-3) vs. Georgia (9-3)

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Michigan State will play in a January bowl game for the first time in nine seasons, and the Spartans can take an important step in their evolution by knocking off preseason No. 1 Georgia.

The Spartans had to be encouraged after watching Georgia's last performance, in which the Bulldogs surrendered 409 rushing yards in a loss to Georgia Tech. Running the ball is what Michigan State does best, and the Spartans boast one of the nation's top backs in senior Javon Ringer, who leads FBS in carries (370) and ranks third in rushing average (132.5 ypg).

Georgia undoubtedly will load up to try and stop Ringer, so Spartans senior quarterback Brian Hoyer needs to step up. Hoyer struggled the last time he stepped on the field at Citrus Bowl Stadium, throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble in the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl.

Michigan State does a good job of controlling the clock, and it will need to do whatever possible to keep Georgia's offense off the field.

The Spartans defense has performed well for most of the season, but it really struggled against elite offensive skill players from Cal, Ohio State and Penn State. Georgia's dynamic backfield of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno will test Michigan State, which was mediocre statistically.