Memphis, TN – The Mississippi State Bulldogs will square off against the Rice Owls in the 55th AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 4 p.m. (EST). The game will be televised by ESPN.
Mississippi State will be marking the 50th anniversary of its first appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in 1963. The Bulldogs defeated North Carolina State in the 1963 game. This will be Mississippi State’s fourth trip to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. In their last appearance in 2007, a record crowd of 63,816 watched the Bulldogs defeat UCF.
This will be Rice’s first trip to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Owls earned their spot in this year’s AutoZone Liberty Bowl with a 41-24 win over Marshall in the C-USA Championship game. Rice has a storied history, with bowl appearances dating back to 1938. This will be the Owl’s second consecutive bowl appearance and their third under head coach David Bailiff.
Steve Ehrhart, the executive director of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl said, "We’re proud to welcome back Mississippi State to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on the 50th anniversary of their first trip to our game and their fourth overall appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Mississippi State has great fans. They helped set the AutoZone Liberty Bowl’s all-time attendance record the last time they played in our game. We know the Bulldog Nation is energized and ready to follow their team to Memphis after the Bulldog’s thrilling overtime win in the Egg Bowl. We look forward to the Bulldogs and their fans ringing in the New Year on Beale Street."
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State head coach said, "Our seniors have done something no one here has ever done, and that’s play in four straight bowls. That’s special. This is a reward for all the hard work that started back in August, and I know our players, coaches and fans look forward to going to Memphis and playing in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl."
"The AutoZone Liberty Bowl staff does a top-notch job running the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and we look forward to returning to Memphis and playing Rice," said Scott Stricklin, the Mississippi State athletics director. "Our fans have a lot of passion, and we saw that in 2007 when we set the attendance record. I know they will take over the city of Memphis and enjoy all the events associated with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl."
Rice head coach David Bailiff said, "We’re excited to face Mississippi State. Dan Mullen and his staff are doing a great job. You look at their schedule and you see they only lost to Auburn by three at Auburn, and they lost a shootout with Texas A&M. They really closed ranks and showed great character down the stretch, winning those last two games in overtime to become bowl eligible. We know we are in for a tremendous challenge, but that’s what is exciting about the season we have had. I know our players are excited to play a team from the SEC and ready to get to work as soon as we can."
The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com spot Mississipi State a 3.15-point advantage over Rice in the contest.