EAST LANSING, Mich. - For the first time in nine years, Michigan State (9-3) is headed to a New Year's Day bowl game. The 19th-ranked Spartans have accepted an invitation to play No. 16 Georgia (9-3) in the 63rd annual Capital One Bowl on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, in Orlando, Fla. The Capital One Bowl will be televised nationally by ABC with kickoff set for 1 p.m. EST.
Michigan State is making its 19th postseason bowl appearance, but its first New Year's Day game since a 37-34 victory over Florida in the 2000 Florida Citrus Bowl.
"This will be a showcase for two of the best running backs in the country, in Michigan State's Javon Ringer and Georgia's Knowshon Moreno," Florida Citrus Sports Executive Director Steve Hogan said. "Both Michigan State and Georgia have something to prove at 9-3, and conference bragging rights are on the line with the Big Ten winning the bowl's last four games to bring the head-to-head record to 8-8 over the last 16 years."
"We're so proud of what our football program has accomplished in just two seasons under head coach Mark Dantonio, competing for a Big Ten championship on the final weekend of the regular season and now accepting a New Year's Day bowl invitation," Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon said. "Our students, faculty, alumni and fans are equally excited about making another trip to Orlando, truly one of the nation's finest bowl destinations. Team MSU will be well represented in Orlando."
"We are absolutely thrilled to be headed back to Orlando for an appearance in the Capital One Bowl," MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis said. "This football team accomplished many things that haven't been done around here for a long time: winning nine games for just the third time since 1966, playing for a share of the Big Ten Conference championship on the last weekend of the regular season, earning a Top 25 ranking for nine of the last 10 weeks and receiving its first New Year's Day bowl bid in nine years. We congratulate head coach Mark Dantonio, the coaching staff and our student-athletes on a job well done. This football program has made tremendous strides in two short years.
"Our team and fans had a great experience in Orlando last December for the Champs Sports Bowl, and we expect another great turnout for the Capital One Bowl. MSU has nearly 15,000 alumni living in Florida, so we look forward to reconnecting with many of them for a memorable New Year's Day celebration."
"We're building a foundation here and last year, we took the first step with a bowl appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl," Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio said. "We said the next step in the building process was earning a bid to a New Year's Day bowl. Some may have scoffed at that notion, but our players worked extremely hard and made that goal a reality. This team found a way to win close ballgames and put itself in a position to compete for a share of the Big Ten championship in the final week.
"We're looking forward to going down to Orlando to represent the Big Ten with the intent to earn back some respect. We'll be motivated to play an extremely talented and explosive Georgia football team."
For information about the MSU Alumni Association Official Bowl Tour, Spartan fans should call 877-MSU-TRIP or visit the MSUAA web site at www.msusportstravel.com.
Michigan State receives an allotment of 12,000 tickets for the Capital One Bowl. Tickets are priced at $80 each. Fans may order Capital One Bowl tickets online at msuspartans.com (click "tickets" and proceed to the Spartan Online Ticket Office) or by calling the Spartan Ticket Office (open weekdays from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.), locally at 355-1610 or outside the Lansing area at 1-800-GO-STATE.