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Mississippi State Mississippi State (6-6)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
Wake Forest Wake Forest (6-6)
Schedule/Results / Bowl History
Location: Nashville, TN
Date: Friday, December 30
Time: 6:40 pm EST

Game Preview

Courtesy Music City Bowl and
December 27, 2011

The 2011 Music City Bowl between Wake Forest and Mississippi State is a tale of two teams that had vastly opposite forecasts, but wound up meeting in the middle.

Mississippi State was a preseason pick to go 9-3 while Wake Forest was forecasted to go just 2-10. However, when all was said and done, both schools were 6-6 and meeting in Nashville for the postseason.

The Bulldogs never got the train rolling and failed to beat anyone of any significance. The best win came in overtime vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5). Its other victims were Memphis (2-10), UAB (4-8), Kentucky (5-7), Tennessee-Martin (FCS) and Ole Miss (2-10).

Despite the underachievement of the season, Mississippi State Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin said, "A second-straight post-season bowl berth is a credit to the hard work of Coach Dan Mullen, his staff and our football student-athletes. We are proud of their accomplishments and look forward to joining the thousands of other Bulldogs in Nashville for a great bowl experience."

Conversely, Wake Forest got out of the gates hot with victories over eventual bowl teams N. C. State and Florida State in its first five games and it raced to a 4-1 start. Unfortunately for Demon Deacon faithful, the momentum faded and a 2-5 finish culminated in an embarrassing 41-7 blowout loss to Vanderbilt in front of its home fans.

Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said, "We couldn’t be more excited to be playing in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. Our players, coaches and fans are looking forward to this wonderful opportunity in Nashville. Traveling to Nashville during the Christmas holiday will be a great experience for our families and the players."

The 14th annual Music City Bowl is Friday, December. 30 with kickoff scheduled for 6:40 p.m. EST at LP Field in Nashville. The game will be televised live on ESPN.

The 2011 game will mark the sixth consecutive Bowl matchup between the ACC and SEC in Nashville. Last year, the University of North Carolina defeated the University of Tennessee 30-27 in a double-overtime thriller.

Dan Mullen is in his third year at Mississippi State and he has led the team to consecutive bowl games for the first time since the school went to three straight bowls from 1998-2000 under Jackie Sherrill when the team went 26-11 during that stretch.

This marks Mississippi State’s 15th bowl appearance overall (8-6) and their first in Nashville.

The Bulldogs ranked third in the SEC in red zone defense, fourth in turnover margin and fourth in red zone offense. Senior running back Vick Ballard led the rushing attack, finishing this season fourth in the SEC with 1,009 yards. Junior linebacker Cameron Lawrence led the Bulldogs defense this season, ranking third in the SEC with 114 tackles.

The Demon Deacons are led on defense by redshirt freshman cornerback Merrill Noel, who was named ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year after leading the nation in passes defended this year. Wake Forest had five players named to the All-ACC football team: wide receiver Chris Givens and safety Josh Bush were both first team All-ACC selections, offensive guard Joe Looney and nose tackle Nikita Whitlock were second team selections and Noel was an honorable mention choice.

The Congrove Computer Rankings project Mississippi State as an 11.36-point winner for the fifth-widest predicted outcome of the 35 postseason games.


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