The 2011 edition of the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee will bring together two 6-6 programs one from the SEC and one from the ACC, and take place on Friday December 30, 2011 at 6:40 PM on ESPN. It will be Mississippi State Bulldogs (6-6) of the SEC versus Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-6) of the ACC for the first time in both schools histories. Both teams are limping into Nashville; the Bulldogs lost two of their last three, and the Demon Deacons lost 5 of their last 6. However both teams in recent years have stellar bowl records that they are putting on the line in the Music City Bowl, but only one team will be ringing in the New Year with a party in Music City.
Mississippi State has won their last five bowl games spanning over thirteen seasons, with the most recent versus Michigan in the Gator Bowl. This team however is not as talented as the 9-4 team in 2010 that beat Michigan 52-14 on New Year’s Day 2011. The consecutive bowl trip for the Bulldogs comes for the first time since there 1999 bowl win in the Peach Bowl over Clemson, and their win over Texas A&M in the 2000 Independence Bowl.
State brings a potent rushing attack and solid defense to the Music City led by Senior Vick Ballard at running back who gained 1,009 in the defensive heavy SEC Western Division. He also had eight touchdowns on the year which ranks him fifth out of SEC running backs, and his 1,009 yards rank him fourth. He ended the regular season on a high note beating rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl with 144 yards rushing and a touchdown. The Defense finished 43rd in the NCAA for total defense, and is led by defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, who had 12 ½ tackles and four sacks. The only question for the Bulldogs is at the quarterback position which has been a struggle for them all year.
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons started the season on a roll with a 4-1 start and a big win over then number 23 Florida State. After that game the Demon Deacons went downhill losing five of their final six games. That last game was also a game that matched them up with a SEC school, where they were humiliated against a Vanderbilt Commodore team 41-7 at home. Even though they come into the bowl limping in off a very humbling loss to the Commodore’s, they have won six of their last seven bowl appearances dating back to 1992. Their last bowl win game against Navy, 29-19, in 2008 in the Eagle Bank Bowl.
Wake brings in a fantastic passing attack with a big time receiver Chris Givens. Givens finished the season with 74 receptions for 1,276 yards and 9 touchdowns. That places him third in the ACC in receptions, first in yards, and third in touchdowns. They also bring with them a mediocre defense that ranks 75th national, and is led by senior safety Josh Bush who was second in the ACC with six interceptions on the year. The big question for the Demon Deacons is with their defense and if they can stop the rushing attack of the Bulldogs.
At the end of the day one of these teams will lose, and it should come down to the defensive side of the ball. Vegas odds makers currently have the Bulldogs as a 7 point favorite, and we will go with a little more than that for our prediction. SECJams will take the Mississippi State Bulldogs rushing attack to a 28-17 victory over the Demon Deacons.