by CFP Staff
December 31, 2011
Mississippi State saw the SEC's first action of the 2011 bowl season and knocked off Wake Forest 23-17 in a Music City Bowl battle of two 6-6 teams.
Wake's only lead was at 7-0 in the first quarter, but the Bulldogs quickly tied it on a 60-yard run by Vick Ballard and went in front for good on a Chris Relf 31-yard pass hookup with Arceto Clark in the 2nd frame.
The bowl win was Mississippi State's fifth in-a-row. Head coach Dan Mullen guided the Bulldogs to back-to-back 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.
The 2011 Music City Bowl between Wake Forest and Mississippi State was 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. It's wins came against Wake (6-7), Louisiana Tech (8-5), Memphis (2-10), UAB (4-8), Kentucky (5-7), Tennessee-Martin (FCS) and Ole Miss (2-10).
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, racing to a 4-1 start. Unfortunately for Demon Deacon faithful, the momentum stalled and Wake won just 1 of its last 5 games, counting the bowl game.
Mississippi State improved to 9-6 overall in bowl games while Wake Forest fell to 6-4.
75% of CollegeFootballPoll.com voters picked Mississippi State to win and the Congrove Computer Rankings had the Bulldogs as relatively large 11.36-point favorites.