The Wildcats of Northwestern, coming off one of the more successful seasons in recent memory, get the pleasure of opening up a barrage of New Year’s Day bowl games that feature Big Ten squads. NU will square off with Mississippi State in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl. The game will air on ESPN at noon E.T.
Here is how our staff sees things shaking out:
Andy Coppens (Co-managing editor):
Thoughts: Who's playing in this one? ( I kid.) However I'm not a fan of this matchup if I'm a Bulldogs fan. Why? Simply because Northwestern has two things we don't do well against – a mobile QB and a speed burner at RB – and I'm predicting a great game by Kain Colter and Venric Mark because of it. Problem is MSU's offense is decent enough to torch the Wildcats too. Give me the Wildcats to break their bowl game losing streak, which is now nine in a row.
Prediction: Northwestern 41, Mississippi State 37
…more after the jump…
Will Nahikian (Featured columnist)
Thoughts: The B1G has not been good against the SEC at all, but Northwestern does have a few things working for them in this one. Like Andy said: Mississippi State has not been good against mobile quarterbacks or burners at running back. Unfortunately for them, Northwestern has both in Kain Colter and Venric Mark. On the other hand, Northwestern does not have the best defense, and have seemed to get stuck in some shootouts. This one very well may be a shootout, as the Bulldogs can score. They average 30.3 points per game and I expect them to score at least that in this one. I am not sure how this one ends up, but I will take the B1G and Northwestern in this one.
Prediction: Northwestern 45, Mississippi State 38
Nate Woelfel (Co-managing editor)
Thoughts: There is no getting around the fact that Mississippi State has struggled with versatile quarterbacks. My gut tells me that things likely won’t change in this contest. If Northwestern come out and play a clean game, establish Venric Mark, and get Kain Colter in some type of rhythm early, I think they will be just fine.
However, there is a real possibility that, after roughly a month off, the offense could be a little rusty. Should that happen, it is hard to see the Wildcats’ defense holding firm for an extended period of time. IF there is going to be a window for the Bulldogs to stake their claim in this one, it will be early.
Prediction: Northwestern 42, Mississippi State 38