Before this season, Georgia coach Mark Richt was facing a lot of criticism. the Bulldogs had performed below expectations and many Georgia fans felt that another subpar season would cost him his job. In 2011 Georgia surprised many by winning 10 games and the SEC East Division. According to SB Nation's Dawg Sports, that puts Georgia in an interesting position as they prepare to face Michigan State in the 2012 Outback Bowl in Tampa:
A solid victory in the Outback over a solid Spartan squad could very well propel the Bulldogs to a preseason top 5 ranking. Let that sink in for a few seconds. After the early loss to Boise State such a start to 2012 seemed inconceivable. Nevertheless that’s where we are. Does that buy Mark Richt lifetime tenure in Athens? No. The only thing more disasterous for a college football coach than engendering low expectations is failing to reach high ones.
Michigan State is trying to end a long drought of not winning in bowl games. The Spartans last won a bowl game following the 2001 season when they defeated Fresno State in the Silicon Valley Bowl.