Sylvester Croom is in his fourth season at Mississippi State and overall with a record of 16-29 (.356). The Bulldogs' offensive coordinator is Woody McCorvey and the defensive coordinator is Ellis Johnson.
George O'Leary is in his fourth season at UCF with a record of 22-27 (.449) and in his 11th season overall with a record of 74-60 (.552). The Golden Knights ' offensive coordinator is Tim Salem and the defensive coordinator is John Skladany.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN MISSISSIPPI STATE HAS THE BALL
Anthony Dixon has now rushed 432 times in his career for 1,648 yards and 22 touchdowns. He now stands eighth on the school's all-time rushing attempts list. His 22 rushing touchdowns have moved him into a fifth-place tie on the school's all-time list. Center Royce Blackledge has now started 30 consecutive games for the Bulldogs, including 24 in a row at center. QB Wesley Carroll was named to the SEC's All-Freshman Team.
Keith Shologan, who was an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American, had 25 tackles and 2.5 sacks during the season. Sha'reff Rashad led the team with a career-high 94 tackles and also added four interceptions. Leger Douzable registered a team-high 7.5 sacks in 2007. Derrick Hallman led all UCF rookies with 45 tackles and he added three sacks. DE Bruce Miller had seven sacks in his first campaign for the Knights.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN CENTRAL FLORIDA HAS THE BALL
Titus Brown has recorded 37 tackles for loss (minus 172 yards), 18.5 of which were quarterback sacks (minus 114 yards) his career. Brown, who has recorded at least one tackle for loss in 10 of the season's 12 games, is eighth in the league with 1.12 TFL per game. His 0.67 sack-per-game average is fourth best in the SEC. His 18.5 sacks are good for seventh place all-time at MSU. Derek Pegues has made eight career pass interceptions, returning three of those eight picks for touchdown, the most in school history.
Kevin Smith enters the Liberty Bowl as the nation's leading rusher and scorer with 2,448 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns. Smith, the second all-time single season rusher, and former Oklahoma State standout Barry Sanders are the only two running backs in history to rush for more than 2,000 yards and score 30 touchdowns in a season. Sanders rushed for 2,628 yards in 11 regular season games in 1989.
Pegues became the school's all-time leader in kickoff returns (80) with a pair of returns against Ole Miss in the season-ending win over the Rebels. He is nearing the top of the school's kick return yardage (1,776) list as well, trailing only Tony James in the attempts category. Pegues' kickoff returns are tied for the fifth most in SEC history and his yardage is ninth-most ever in the league. He also ranks sixth on the school's all-time punt returns list (51) and is fourth on the all-time yardage ranking (615).
Joe Burnett occupied two positions on the C-USA first team, earning a spot at both defensive back and punt returner. Burnett led the league with six interceptions and had an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown in the C-USA title game. Michael Torres was named to the conference's All-Freshman team. Michael Buscemi was named as C-USA's top snapper after flawless punt and place-kicking snaps all season.
Record: MSU, 1-0 • Last: MSU, 35-28 (1997 at Starkville)
Mississippi State will be making its 13th postseason bowl appearance when the Bulldogs in the 49th annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl ...State is 6-6 all-time in bowl games, but have not played a postseason game since beating Texas A&M 43-41 in the 2000 Independence Bowl...MSU will be making its third appearance in the Liberty Bowl, but its first in 16 years ...State played Air Force in the 1991 Liberty Bowl in Memphis under then first-year head coach Jackie Sherrill...MSU has not played football in Memphis since 2002, a 29-17 win over the Memphis at the Liberty Bowl ...State is 29-16-3 all-time in the city of Memphis, with a 16-6 all-time mark at UM.