Liberty Bowl: Rice vs. Mississippi State

Liberty Bowl: Rice vs. Mississippi StateLiberty Bowl Matchup: Rice Owls vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Date/Time: December 31st, 4:00 ET

Television: ESPN

Liberty Bowl Odds from BetAnySports

Point Spread: Mississippi State -7

Total: 50.5

The Liberty Bowl isn’t one of the sexier clashes on New Year’s Eve for college football betting fans, but we are intrigued to see how the Rice Owls stack up against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

You probably don’t even realize it, but the Owls won 10 games this year. They had one of the best teams in Conference USA, though it is anyone’s guess as to whether or not they were legitimately one of the best even 60 teams in the country in 2013. They did stick around with the Texas A&M Aggies in the first half when QB Johnny Manziel was suspended at the outset of the season, but that was only one example, and not a great one at that of how Rice might do against SEC teams. QB Taylor McHargue, a big, barreling quarterback, threw for 17 TDs against eight picks for the campaign, and he has 466 yards on the ground. RB Charles Ross, another massive back, has 1,252 yards and 14 TDs, and he is averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Still, we have to bring it up – a lot of this came against the teams in the lousy doldrums of Conference USA, not the big boys across the country, which makes this a definitive problem against the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State needed to win on the final day of the regular season just to get into a bowl game this year, and it wasn’t an easy job to beat the Mississippi Rebels in the Egg Bowl. QB Tyler Russell is out with a shoulder injury, and that leaves QB Dak Prescott to try to take on the Owls in this one. He threw for just 1,657 yards and seven TDs against seven picks this year, but he was also the team’s leading rusher with 751 yards and 11 scores to boot. RB LaDarius Perkins, whom many thought would be one of the best backs in the SEC this year, managed just 495 yards and averaged just 4.0 yards per carry. There have been kicking problems this year to boot, which could prove to be problematic in the end, as neither K Devon Bell nor K Evan Sobiesk managed to boot a field goal longer than 40 yards on the season.

The Bulldogs are continuing their four-season streak of playing in bowl games. They had won five in a row before getting beaten by the Northwestern Wildcats last year in the Gator Bowl. This is the first time since beating UCF in 2007 that the Dogs are here in the Liberty Bowl. Rice has only played 10 bowl games in its history, but it has dominated in its last two bowls, a 38-14 win in the Texas Bowl against the Western Michigan Broncos, and a 33-14 win over the Air Force Falcons in the Armed Forces Bowl last season.

Adam Markowitz

is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.