Unfortunately for Bulldog fans, this might be one of the more lopsided games this bowl season. But can Mississippi State fans really get too upset about this? Your star quarterback is injured and out for the game, your former head coach is gone, and your former defensive coordinator is gone. Mississippi State will play extremely hard in efforts to try and impress incoming head coach Joe Moorhead, but it won’t be enough against this Louisville squad.
Breaking Down Mississippi State: Dan Mullen is not walking onto that field and neither is Nick Fitzgerald. That does not bode well for this Mississippi State offense. Last time we saw a Nick Fitzgerald-less Mississippi State team was during the Egg Bowl, which ended up being an embarrassing beat down at the hands of the Rebels. If the Bulldogs couldn’t do it against Ole Miss – one of the worst defenses in all of college football – they won’t be able to do it against Louisville. The defense will be missing Todd Grantham who left to take the Defensive Coordinator job at Florida. Will that be enough to shatter what has been an elite defense? We will see. The Bulldogs definitely have the talent, evidence of which is easy to find (top 25 scoring defense, top 10 fewest allowed yards per game, 30 sacks on the season), but how much of that was scheme related?
Two Wildcats square off in the heart of Tennessee to close out the season, but one Wildcat needs a victory more than the other. Whether Northwestern wins or loses this game, I think most Northwestern fans would tell you that this was a successful season. On the other hand, a Kentucky loss to finish the season and most Kentucky fans would tell you the season was somewhat dissatisfying. Finishing 7-6 with the best roster Mark Stoops has had in a while, and in a year where Tennessee and Florida were historically horrible is less than ideal. Kentucky needs this one badly.
Texas A&M facing off against Wake Forest in a middle tier bowl might give the impression that this will be a snooze fest. But not to me. This game has me intrigued for a few reasons. First, it will take place in my hometown of Charlotte, which means there should be a lot of Wake fans. Key word is should. While there is a lot of excitement around the program right now, it’s still Wake Forest. Second, this will be A&M’s first game after the Sumlin firing and the Fisher hiring. How will they respond? Third, it’s your classic ACC-SEC matchup.
Image from Aggies Athletics
Breaking Down A&M: Don’t underestimate the power of trying to impress a new coach. The players know that Jimbo Fisher will be analyzing each and every one of them scrupulously. Georgia was in a similar spot two years ago, and they won. The roster itself has the talent. This season has had flashes of promise handcuffed with head scratching moments. The offense averages over 30 points a game, which is a success in itself, but coupled with their mediocre numbers passing and rushing the football and that points-per-game stat is down right impressive. The defense is pretty average in most aspects, except in one – rushing the passer. Only six teams in the country have sacked the quarterback more than A&M.