Present Iteration: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl.
Past Iterations: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl presented by Bridgestone, Music City Bowl.
Toasting Town: Nashville, Tennessee
Combatants: Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)
Holiday Equivalent: Prepackaged, Non-Alcoholic Egg Nog
Mississippi State Bulldogs [SRS 38]
Best Wins: Louisiana Tech (45)
Losses: LSU (1), Alabama (3), Arkansas (12), Georgia (16), South Carolina (20), Auburn (57)
Famous Alum: John Grisham
The Bulldogs entered the season with ramped up expectations and a Top-20 ranking. They then lost to every good SEC team they played. Dan Mullen likes Starkville, which is fortunate, since he may be there for a while. Perceptions were poor though, statistically, this was not a vastly less effective team. Their improvement on defense roughly equalled their decline on offense. The difference in record was largely a product of playing 2011 South Carolina instead of 2010 Florida and playing an improved Georgia in Athens.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons [SRS 72]
Best Wins: Florida State (24), North Carolina St. (66), Boston College (80)
Losses: Notre Dame (17), Virginia Tech (26), Clemson (27), Vanderbilt (33). North Carolina (44) Syracuse (81)
Famous Alum: Stephanie Birkitt
Wake Forest is a whole lot of average. Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price had a decent season (60.9 percent passing, 2800 yards, 20 TD with just 6 INT). They also have explosive receiver Chris Givens, who had 1276 yards and nine touchdowns on 74 catches. The trouble is they are going against Mississippi State’s pass defense, tied for 11th nationally in yards allowed per attempt and fewest touchdown passes allowed.
Key: Lines of scrimmage. Mississippi State is built to play in the SEC. Wake Forest is not. They have a small defensive line and a bad offensive one (89th in sacks allowed, 104th in rushing). That’s going to be a problem.
For Recreational Purposes: Mississippi State (-6.5)
[Photo via Getty]