Music City Bowl Pick: Wake Forest vs. Mississippi State
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are once again back in a suspect bowl game by SEC standards, as they are set to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in NCAA football betting action at the Music City Bowl as a part of the 2011 bowl game schedule.
It was a very up and down year for the Demon Deacons, and for every seemingly great game was a dreadful defeat. They knocked off the Florida State Seminoles at home in their biggest win of the year, and even though they did only finish at 6-6, they were a late collapse against the Clemson Tigers away from winning the ACC Atlantic Division and playing for the ACC Championship. Out of conference play though, they were smashed by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and most recently the Vanderbilt Commodores, a team that figures to be significantly worse than this Mississippi State team, even though the Dogs had the exact same 6-6 record as the ‘Dores. QB Tanner Price needs to do a good job in this game of taking care of the pigskin. He threw for 2,803 yards and 20 TDs against just six picks, and he really can’t afford to see that INT number rise considering the fact that the offense really isn’t all that special beyond WR Chris Givens, one of the biggest receiving threats not just on the team, but in the entire ACC.
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Mississippi State was a 6-6 team this year, but you have to consider the magnitude of the losses that it suffered. It was beaten by Auburn (on the road), Georgia (on the road), LSU, South Carolina, Alabama, and Arkansas (on the road). That’s five teams with at least 10 wins and the defending BCS National Champions in their backyard. Yikes. Aside from that, what was left was a team that was gritty against a schedule that was still nothing to bat an eyelash at. Sure, the offense struggled at times under the direction of QBs Tyler Russell and Chris Relf, but there is some real talent here as well, like that of RB Vick Ballard, a back that always runs with a purpose and with a big time mean streak. The Bulldogs also played just remarkable defense this year. Considering how brutal the schedule was, allowing 19.9 points per game was just mind-boggling, and this is the unit that is really going to be under the gun to perform in the Music City Bowl.
Music City Bowl Keys To The Game: The ACC usually doesn’t have a fantastic time playing against the SEC in bowl games, and this year really might not be all that much of an exception. Again, we have to stress that Wake Forest had nothing going at home against Vandy, probably the worst team in the SEC to go bowling this year. Wake Forest knows that it isn’t going to have all of the success in the world against the Bulldogs’ defense, but it needs to hit a big play here or there to loosen things up. That’s really the only way that a team was able to put together some big time numbers against this team.