Mississippi State will face Northwestern in this year's Gator Bowl. The Bulldogs will try to win their sixth straight bowl game and third straight under Dan Mullen.
Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) opened the season with seven straight wins, but the Bulldogs have lost four of their last five games. Both of those stretches reflected the level of competition the Bulldogs faced. In its first seven games, Mississippi State didn't play a ranked team, but in its last five, it played three teams ranked in the top 20 and a rivalry game against Ole Miss.
The Bulldogs averaged 30.3 points and 389.4 yards per game during the regular season, and they allowed 22.4 and 389.9 yards per contest. Quarterback Tyler Russell was the catalyst for the Mississippi State offense, throwing for 2,791 yards, 22 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
Northwestern (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten) doesn't have much of a bowl history, having played in just 10 postseason games, but the Wildcats are making their eighth bowl appearance in the last 12 seasons. Even with their recent success, the Wildcats haven't won a bowl game since Jan. 1, 1948, when they defeated Cal in the Rose Bowl. Northwestern's current nine-game bowl losing streak is tied for the longest ever.
The Wildcats ranked third in the Big Ten in scoring this year, averaging 31.5 points per game. Junior running back Venric Mark was fourth in the conference during the regular season with 109.2 rushing yards per game. Mark averaged 6.2 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground.
Game date and time
Jan. 1, noon ET
EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.
Sirius 93, XM 190
Last year’s game
Florida 24, Ohio State 17
Look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.