TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl: Northwestern Wildcats (9-3) and Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4)
Jan. 1, noon CT
ESPN2 – Jacksonville, FL
Player Swag Bag: Fossil watch, Dome hat, Mercury garment bag and carry-on bag, Jostens ring, football
Northwestern’s Season: Northwestern is looking to break the streak of 9 bowl game losses going back 65 years to 1949. Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats feature a two-quarterback system with both Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian taking snaps under center. Venric Mark is RB in the countries 14th ranked rushing offense. Mark has run for 1310 rushing yards and Kain Colter has 820 rushing yards. Northwestern’s defense is lead by LB Chi Chi Ariguzo who has a great name and 10.5 tackles for a loss. Along with the rest of the immaculately named linebacking corp featuring David Nwabuisi and Damien Proby Northwestern has held opponents to only 3.6 yards per carry.
Mississippi State’s Season: Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs started the season 7-0 but have lost 4 out of their last 5 games. Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell has thrwon for 2791 yards and 22 TDs, completed 59.8% of his passes and thrown only 6 INTs. The Bulldogs average only 140.7 rushing yards per game lead by RB Ladarius Perkins. Perkins needs to step up for the Bulldogs because his back up Nick Griffin tore his right ACL in practice on December 8. The defense is lead by Thorpe Award, consensus All-American, and unanimous 1st Team SEC CB Johnthan Banks. The Bulldog defense has struggled against the run this year giving up on average 166 rushing yards per game.
The Game: Northwestern is not your prototypical B1G run it up the gut offense. The Wildcats will employ a variety of looks and will spread the ball around looking for weakness in a Bulldog defense that was exposed in a late season loss to Ole Miss. Also between the two QBs they threw 331 passes and only had 4 INTs. However the Wildcat pass defense is only 102nd in the country and will be facing a quarterback in Russell who averages more than 30 passes per game. Expect the Northwestern secondary to be tested on New Years Day.
Northwestern 31 Mississippi State 27