In one of three Big Ten-SEC battles of this bowl season 9-3 Northwestern goes against 8-4 Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl New Year's Day in Jacksonville (noon ET, ESPN2).
The early Gator Bowl odds were listing the Bulldogs, who started 7-0 this season but have lost four of their last five games, as two-point favorites over the Wildcats, who finished 5-3 in the Big Ten, each of their losses coming after giving up fourth-quarter leads.
Mississippi State is 5-1 ATS in its past 6 bowl games, while Northwestern comes in riding a profitable 3-1 ATS bowl record. [ More Gator Bowl betting stats, matchup data and more ]
Betting Line: On the opening line for this matchup, the Bulldogs sat as 2.5-point favorites, according to 5Dimes. The total, meanwhile, was 51.5 in early bowl betting at .
Northwestern Bowl History
|1995||Rose Bowl||Southern Cal||41||Northwestern||32||3||USC|
|1996||Capital One Bowl||Tennessee||48||Northwestern||28||9||TENN|
|2003||Motor City Bowl||Northwestern||24||Bowling Green||28||-7.5||NWESTN|
|2010||Ticket City Bowl||Northwestern||38||Texas Tech||45||-7.5||NWESTN|
|2011||Meineke Car Care Bowl||Texas A&M||33||Northwestern||22||9.5||TEXA&M|
Mississippi State Bowl History
|1998||Cotton Bowl||Mississippi State||11||Texas||38||-6.5||TEXAS|
|1999||Chick-Fil-A Bowl||Clemson||7||Mississippi State||17||-2.5||MIS.ST|
|2000||Independence Bowl||Mississippi State||43||Texas A&M||41||-1||MIS.ST|
|2007||Liberty Bowl||Central Florida||3||Mississippi State||10||3||MIS.ST|
|2010||Gator Bowl||Michigan||14||Mississippi State||52||-3||MIS.ST|
|2011||Music City Bowl||Wake Forest||17||Mississippi State||23||-7||WAKE|
How They Match Up:
Offensively, the game matches up Mississippi State's No. 56-ranked offense (30.2 PPG) against a Wildcats defense that ranks No. 31 at 22.8 PPG. The Bulldogs passing attack has averaged 248.8 yards per game, less than the Wildcats give up through the air (262.6 YPG on average).
Defensively, the Wildcats feature the league's No. 33-rated road run defense, allowing 137.6 yards per game. Mississippi State, meanwhile, ranks No. 63 in rushing offense at home.
Northwestern was a 50-14 winner in their most recent outing at home against Illinois. They covered the 19-point spread as favorites, while the total score (64) made winners of OVER bettors. Venric Mark tore up the turf for 127 rushing yards in the latest Wildcats game, a 50-14 win over the Fighting Illini at Ryan Field.
Mississippi State lost its last outing, a 41-24 result against Mississippi on November 24. Mississippi State failed to cover in that game as a 1-point underdog, while the 65 combined points took the game OVER the total. Chad Bumphis was good for 146 receiving yards in the Bulldogs's most recent action, but while it helped his stats, it didn’t help his team to victory and they fell 41-24 to the Bulldogs.
Northwestern Wildcats Trends:
When playing in January are 0-4
When playing on grass are 7-3
After outgaining opponent are 8-2
When an underdog on the road are 4-6
Mississippi State Bulldogs Trends:
When playing in January are 1-1
When playing on grass are 7-3
After being outgained are 6-4
When favored at home are 10-0
A few Wildcats at Bulldogs trends to consider:
Northwestern is 9-3 SU in its last 12 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Northwestern's last 6 games
Mississippi State is 10-4 SU in its last 14 games
Mississippi State is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
Mississippi State is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games