2009 Capital One Preview - Georgia vs. MSU
MSU's Javon Ringer & Georgia's Knowshon Moreno
MSU's Javon Ringer & Georgia's Knowshon Moreno
Posted Dec 20, 2008

Georgia vs. Michigan State - The 2009 Capital One Bowl Preview & Prediction

2009 Capital One Bowl

Georgia (9-3) vs. Michigan State (9-3)

Jan. 1, 1:00 p.m. ET, ABC

$4.25 million   Location: Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando FL

- 2009 Capital One 2009 Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More

National Rankings
Georgia Michigan State
Total Offense
20th  433.92 ypg 67th  352.42 ypg
Total Defense
28th  318.33 ypg 61st  357.92 ypg
Scoring Offense
29th  32.08 ppg 56th  26.17 ppg
Scoring Defense
63rd  25.58 ppg 40th  21.92 ppg
Run Offense
53rd  153.92 ypg 67th  138.42 ypg
Run Defense
39th  129.92 ypg 71st  147.58 ypg
Pass Offense
16th  280 ypg 59th  214 ypg
Pass Defense
32nd  188.42 ypg 62nd  210.33 ypg
Turnover Margin
72nd  -0.17 55th  0.08
Ga South W 45-21
Cent. Mich W 56-17
at S Carolina W 14-7
at Ariz St W 27-10
Alabama L 41-30
Tennessee W 26-14
Vanderbilt W 24-14
at LSU W 52-38
Florida L 49-10
at Kent. W 42-38
at Auburn W 17-13
Ga Tech L 45-42
Michigan State
at California L 38-31
East. Mich W 42-10
Fla Atlantic W 17-0
Notre Dame W 23-7
at Indiana W 42-29
Iowa W 16-13
at Nwestern W 37-20
Ohio St L 45-7
at Michigan W 35-21
Wisconsin W 25-24
Purdue W 21-7
at Penn St L 49-18
Position Ratings
relative to each other
G 5 highest
1 lowest
5 Quarterbacks 3
5 RBs 5
4.5 Receivers 3
4 O Line 3.5
3 D Line 3.5
4 Linebackers 4
3 Secondary 4
4 Spec Teams 3
4 Coaching 4.5

Finish the drill.

That’s always been the mantra under Georgia head coach Mark Richt, but his program hasn’t been able to do that. Tennessee got a national title in the last decade, Florida is in its third championship game in the last three years, LSU has two national championships in the last five years, and Alabama appears almost certain to win one in the near future. This was supposed to be Georgia’s turn at bat.
After a demolition of Hawaii in the 2008 Sugar Bowl and with a slew of stars returning, led by Detroit Lion-in-waiting, QB Matthew Stafford, and near-certain first round draft pick, RB Matthew Stafford, this was the preseason No. 1 team in the country in what turned out to be a down year for the SEC. Instead, Georgia lost to the three strong teams it faced, Florida, Alabama and Georgia Tech, with a defensive meltdown in each one, and now this appears to be the last hurrah for a team and a program seeing its window of opportunity slam depressingly shut, at least for the near future.

Oh sure, Georgia will always have good teams under Richt, but this was it. This was the year, and it turned out to be Florida and Alabama’s year. Those two aren’t going anywhere, while Ole Miss and Arkansas are interesting programs rising up in the West. The SEC might not ever again have a year when LSU, Tennessee and Auburn are all so mediocre. So while a ten-win season and a New Year’s Day win is never anything to dismiss, it might seem a bit empty in the final analysis. 
On the opposite side is Michigan State, a team without any real expectations of contending for the Big Ten title, at least by anyone outside of East Lansing, and with a shot to take a huge leap forward in the Mark Dantonio era. There have been far, far more talented Spartan teams than this one over the last 15 years, but none have been able to maximize their talent like this one.
RB Javon Ringer is a special back, and there are some big-time players here and there, but the Spartans don’t do any one thing well. This is an above-average team that beat all the average teams on the schedule, the best win came at home against Iowa, and lost to the three really good teams (Cal, Ohio State and Penn State). Sound familiar? Georgia and Michigan State might be more similar than they appear.
While it’s easy to dismiss Michigan State’s wins, it’s not like Georgia has beaten anyone with a pulse outside of, maybe, LSU, and this Tiger team is a shell of the national title powerhouse of last year. It’s not Georgia’s fault that Arizona State stunk or that Auburn was awful, but there were too many close wins over too many mediocre teams. No, the winner of this game won’t be a sham 10-win team, but the loser will have to look back on its season and wonder what it was really able to accomplish.

For Georgia, take out a mystifying first half in the 2006 Sugar Bowl loss to West Virginia and this has been one of the best bowl teams in recent years with nine wins in the last 11.  While history is on Georgia’s side, Capital One Bowl history isn’t with the Big Ten winning the last four, often in stunning fashion. Whether it was the performance by Michigan to hold off Tim Tebow and Florida last year, the fumble return for a score to lead Penn State over Tennessee in 2007, or the miracle Drew Tate pass to lead Iowa to a last second win over LSU in 2005, the Big Ten has represented itself well. Michigan State has lost its last two bowls and hasn’t won one since beating Fresno State in something called the Silicon Valley Classic back in 2001.
Players to watch: This is the best matchup of running backs of the bowl season with Javon Ringer and Knowshon Moreno each needing big final games to show off for the NFL scouts. Ringer wasn’t supposed to be a workhorse or a goal line back, but he carried the ball a whopping 370 times for 1,590 yards and 21 scores despite getting little support from the passing game. He’s a speed back who could be used as a return man and a third down back at the next level, while Moreno has special NFL feature back type of talent. It’s no coincidence that he was held to under 100 yards in the three losses as the offense had to bomb its way to keep up, but when he’s rolling, the offense is unstoppable. A third-year sophomore, he’ll be one of the leaders in the 2009 Heisman chase if he chooses to come back, but he was ready to turn pro last year.
Also ready for the next level is Matthew Stafford, the rare NFL passing quarterback in a day and age of spread players the scouts don’t know what to do with. The disappointing season was hardly Stafford’s fault as he came up with a brilliant season throwing for 3,209 yards and 22 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He threw for 407 yards and five scores in the loss to Georgia Tech and was decent against Alabama, but his three interceptions against Florida proved costly. Even so, with his size, arm, intangibles and attitude, he’s Matt Ryan with an even better arm.   
Lost in the Stafford’s spotlight is Michigan State senior QB Brian Hoyer, a decent veteran who had a strangely bad year. He came up with some of the big throws needed to pull out a few games, like the miracle against Wisconsin, but he only threw for 2,235 yards and nine touchdowns with eight interceptions, including four picks in the last two games. To be fair, it’s not like he has Charles Rogers and Andre Rison to throw to, but he’s going to have to prove early on that he’s able to get the passing game going or else Georgia will throw everyone at Ringer.
Georgia will win if... Moreno and running mate Caleb King control the game from the start. Michigan State’s run defense wasn’t awful this year, but it gave up big yards to the teams, like Wisconsin, who could pound the ball. Ohio State ran for 216 yards and three touchdowns and Jahvid Best led Cal to 230 yards in the season-opener. Penn State ran effectively, but it spent most of its time throwing at will on the MSU secondary. Stafford and his excellent receiving corps can certainly win this game through the air, but the Dawgs likely can’t win if the running game is shut down.
Michigan State will win if
... the defensive front can control the game. This isn’t an elite pass rushing force, but the Spartans haven’t been bad at making plays behind the line and they get streaky when it comes to hitting the quarterback. The Georgia offensive line has overcome injuries to have a great year, and Stafford is excellent at getting the ball out of his hands early, but MSU has to get creative to make sure the Dawg offense is out of its rhythm. If Stafford gets time … ball game. If Moreno gets consistent holes to dart through … ball game. If star MSU LB Greg Jones and future pro safety Otis Wiley are making all the plays, this could be ugly.
What will happen: Georgia will play like the preseason No. 1 team in the country. After the Georgia Tech loss, motivation is hardly a problem for a team that’s so good in bowl games under Richt. MSU will try to get creative with passing game, but it’ll have to lean on the crutch that is Ringer; it won’t be enough. Stafford is a special player who’ll show off why he’s such a hot prospect with a coldly efficient game to balance out a 125-yard day from Moreno. Georgia will pull away in the fourth quarter to make the final score uglier than the game will be.

Line: Georgia -7.5 ... CFN Prediction: Georgia 34 … Michigan State 10      

- 2009 Capital One 2009 Bowl Player Profiles, Histories, & More