Music City Bowl Preview: Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)

December 29, 2011

News, Sports

Chris Relf

Chris Relf

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Time: 5:40 pm Central

TV: ESPN

Initial Analysis: The Mississippi State Bulldogs and Wake Forest Demon Deacons both come into the Music City Bowl trying to end their respective seasons with a victory. The two teams go about winning games in different ways. The Demon Deacons like to throw the ball around, while the Bulldogs like to try to run the ball down their opponents’ throat. It’s a classic SEC versus ACC matchup. The game promises to be a good test of how dominant the SEC really is in bowl games.

Offensive Stats

Wake Forest (Pistol)

2011 Scoring Offense: 26.8

2011 Passing Yards Per Game: 255.6

2011 Rushing Yards Per Game: 118.9

Mississippi State (Spread Option/No-Huddle)

2011 Scoring Offense: 25.5

2011 Passing Yards Per Game: 186.2

2011 Rushing Yards Per Game: 168.8

Defensive Stats

Wake Forest (3-4)

2011 Scoring Defense: 27.8

2011 Passing Yards Per Game Allowed: 236.2

2011 Rushing Yards Per Game Allowed: 168.8

Mississippi State (Multiple Front)

2011 Scoring Defense: 19.9

2011 Passing Yards Per Game Allowed: 194.9

2011 Rushing Yards Per Game Allowed: 161.0

Players To Watch

Wake Forest

Tanner Price: The Demon Deacons’ quarterback had a solid sophomore campaign, and he did a good job of directing their quick-strike offense. Price will have to play the game of his life though, to beat the Bulldogs.

Chris Givins: Givins was a First Team All-ACC player, and the Bulldog defense will need to be aware of where he is on the field. I have a feeling that Johnthan Banks and Givins will become good friends by the end of the game.

Kyle Wilber: Wilber is the Demon Deacons’ best linebacker. He had 10.5 tackles for loss during the 2011 season. The talented linebacker will need to bring his A game to stop the Bulldog rushing attack.

Mississippi State

Chris Relf: Relf has had a tumultuous season. He was replaced mid-season by sophomore Tyler Russell, and then he rotated the rest of the season with Russell. Relf will draw the start in the Music City Bowl, and I think he will have a big game. The dynamic senior will get a chance to go out on top.

Vick Ballard: Ballard ran for 1,000 yards, and he made the All-SEC team; however, the underrated running back didn’t have the year many thought he could. The injury to Tobias Smith slowed down the Bulldog rushing attack, and Ballard’s numbers suffered. The Senior running back will have a big game, in my opinion, versus a poor Demon Deacon rush defense.

Fletcher Cox and Johnthan Banks: Cox and Banks are both playing their last game as Bulldogs. Mississippi State fans should take one last, strong look at the talented juniors.

Three Keys To Victory

Wake Forest

1. Hit the Edges: The Bulldogs have struggled on the edges for years, and the Demon Deacons must try to use screens and sweeps to get the edges on the Bulldogs.

2. Minimize Turnovers: The Demon Deacons are overmatched talent-wise, and they can’t afford to make many mistakes.

3. Attack The Safeties: The Bulldogs lost their best pass coverage safety Nickoe Whitley late in the season. The Demon Deacons will need to take advantage of Charles Mitchell and Wade Bonner in pass coverage.

Mississippi State

1. Get Relf In Rhythm: Relf normally balls out when he gets into rhythm early. Coach Koenning must give Relf some easy completions to get him started.

2. Establish The Power Run Game: The Demon Deacons struggled stopping the run this season. The Bulldogs must run it in between the tackles and take advantage of Wake Forest’s small front seven.

3. Bump ‘N Run: The Demon Deacons like to throw short passes. If the Bulldogs play bump ‘n run, then it will slow the Wake Forest passing attack down.

Final Analysis: This matchup of SEC and ACC teams should be hotly contested to begin the game, but the Bulldogs should take care of business. I think the Bulldog fans who traveled to Nashville will be very happy.

My Prediction: 35-10

@JeremiahShort26

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