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Title game losers UGA, MSU fall to Outback Bowl

Georgia QB Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs hung with LSU early Saturday in the SEC Championship game, but got blown out in the second half.

Georgia QB Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs hung with LSU early Saturday in the SEC Championship game, but got blown out in the second half.

TAMPA, Fla. — Conference championship game losers Georgia and Michigan State have landed in the Outback Bowl.

The 18th-ranked Bulldogs (10-3) and 12th-ranked Spartans (10-3) will play in the Jan. 2 bowl in Tampa, a matchup of 10-win teams that had a chance to earn berths in the Bowl Championship Series. Instead, they dropped below the Capital One Bowl. The Capital One chose Nebraska over Michigan State, and picked South Carolina over Georgia.

LSU drubbed Georgia 42-10 in the Southeastern Conference title game Saturday. Wisconsin edged Michigan State 42-39 in the Big Ten title game Saturday.

One of them will rebound in Tampa. The other will end the season with consecutive losses.

"Our focus is on winning our last football game — the bowl game," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "It's important for our seniors — the winningest four-year class in Spartan history — to add a bowl victory to its long list of accomplishments."

This will be Michigan State's first trip to Tampa.

Georgia is 3-0 in previous trips to the Outback Bowl. The Bulldogs beat Wisconsin in 1998, defeated Purdue in 2000 and edged Wisconsin in 2005. UGA's lone loss in Tampa came in the 1986 Hall of Fame Bowl against Boston College.

"I'm really excited for our team and especially our seniors with the opportunity to play in Tampa, which is one of the premier January bowl games," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "We were fortunate to play in this game back in 2005 and had a terrific experience. This will be the first time the members of our team have the opportunity to play in Tampa and playing a top quality opponent like Michigan State will be a challenge we'll look forward to."

For the Bulldogs, the game will be homecoming for quarterback Aaron Murray and tight end Orson Charles. Both players grew up in Tampa and were teammates at Plant High.

Murray wrote on his Twitter page that he was excited about the opportunity, saying "Heading home for the Outback Bowl!!!"

This will mark the third meeting between the schools.

Georgia beat Michigan State 34-27 in the 1989 Gator Bowl, which was legendary coach Vince Dooley's last game with the Bulldogs. Georgia also knocked off Michigan State 24-12 in the 2009 Capital One Bowl.

"Three years ago, we played Georgia in the Capital One Bowl and that game went down to the wire," Dantonio said. "So fans can expect another close contest. We're excited for this opportunity."