Belk Bowl – Mississippi State Bulldogs (-5) versus North Carolina State Wolf Pack

Posted: January 11, 2016 in College football, Football
Tags: , , ,

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This is the sixth all-time meeting with the last two being in the 1963 Liberty Bowl (MSU won 16-12) and the 1994 Peach Bowl (NCST won 28-24, +6). This bowl has been called the Queen City, Continental Tire, and the Car Care Bowl. North Carolina State played here twice, beating South Florida, 14-0 (-3.5) in 2005 and Louisville, 31-24 (-2) in 2011. They won the St Petersburg Bowl, 34-27 (+2.5) versus Central Florida last year, making head coach Dave Doeren 2-0 SU/ATS in bowls. This is Mississippi State’s sixth straight bowl under head coach Dan Mullen (3-2 SU/2-3 ATS) and lost to Georgia Tech in last years Orange Bowl, 49-34 (-6).

It was going to be tough to match last year’s 10 win season as Mississippi State returned just seven starters, but that did include dynamic quarterback Dak Prescott. They won their opener, then lost by just two against LSU. The Bulldogs then won six of seven with their lone loss at Texas A&M and were ranked a season high No. 20 into their showdown with Alabama. They had a 20-13 first down edge, but lost by 25, then upset Arkansas, but then lost the Egg bowl. Prescott threw for 300+ yards six times, including 508 against Arkansas and leads the team in rushing. They are No. 21 in the FBS, averaging 75 yards per game more then their opponents allow on average. Their defense did lose lockdown cornerback Will Redmond and another defensive back starter late in the year.

Wolf Pack head coach Doeren had his best team since taking over in Raleigh as North Carolina State returned 15 starters from an 8-5 team, including quarterback Jacoby Brissett. They went 4-0 in the non-conference portion of their schedule, but struggled in conference play as not once did they string together back-to-back ACC wins. With the exception of their loss against Louisville, they won every game they were favored in and lost every game they were a ‘dog in. Running back Matthew Dayes was having a great season and was off a 200 yard effort when he injured his foot versus Clemson and was lost for the year. North Carolina State has a solid pass defense, but are average against the run.

Against eight bowl teams, Mississippi State was plus 1.6 yards per game, but North Carolina State was minus 124.2 yards per game against five bowl teams. Look for Prescott to rebound from his poor effort in his final home game as he is too good of a quarterback to struggle at the end of his career. The Wolf Pack will be more excited to play in this bowl game as the Bulldogs had higher aspirations, but due to their lackluster effort in last years bowl and coming off a loss against their rival, Mississippi State will have plenty of motivation.

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