Gator Bowl 2013: Northwestern vs. Miss. State TV Info, Predictions and More

Dave Radcliffe@DaveRadcliffe_Contributor IIIDecember 3, 2012

Gator Bowl 2013: Northwestern vs. Miss. State TV Info, Predictions and More

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    The No. 22 Northwestern Wildcats and Mississippi State Bulldogs—two teams heading in opposite directions—will square off in this season's Gator Bowl.

    After a heartbreaking overtime loss to Michigan on Nov. 10, the Wildcats bounced back nicely and reeled off two impressive victories to close out the regular season. The same cannot be said for the Bulldogs, who dropped four of their last five games as they slide into the Gator Bowl.

    Despite Northwestern's recent success, it has failed to win a bowl game since winning the Rose Bowl in 1948, the lone victory in postseason play for the Wildcats. Mississippi State has performed much better, winning its last five bowl games, including three in the last six years and the Gator Bowl two years ago.

    With all of this in mind, let's preview the 2012 Gator Bowl.

Gameday Info

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    Where: EverBank Field (76,867), Jacksonville, Fla.

    When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, Noon ET

    TV: ESPN2

    Radio: WGN AM 720 (Northwestern), WMOX AM 1010 (Miss. State)

    Live Streaming: Watch ESPN

    Betting Line: Miss. State (-2) via 5Dimes

Key Storylines

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    As mentioned on the opening slide, these are two teams on opposite ends of the spectrum, both in terms of momentum and success in bowl games.

    After jumping out to a 7-0 start this season and earning the No. 11 rank, Mississippi State was manhandled by Alabama, and the Bulldogs haven't been the same since, dropping out of the Top 25 entirely.

    Meanwhile, Northwestern appears to be hitting its stride at the right time, and its three losses could have easily gone either way, making the Wildcats more dangerous than they appear.

    After over 60 years of futility in bowl games, Northwestern is desperate to give its football program a postseason victory, while Mississippi State is looking to avenge its poor finish and aid the SEC in its college football dominance.

Northwestern Depth Chart and Injury Report

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    Injury Report

    The Wildcats will be lacking some depth at the linebacker position as they will be without Roderick Goodlow and Ifeadi Odenigno due to undisclosed injuries. Linebacker Collin Ellis missed the team's final game against Illinois as well, and his status is unclear moving forward.

    Other players to miss Northwestern's last game were safeties Traveon Henry and Hunter Bates, but the Wildcats received some good news when quarterback Kain Colter, running back Venric Mark and defensive back Nick Vanhoose were not listed on the injury report and were on the field against Illinois.


    QB—Kain Colter - Trevor Siemian

    RB—Venric Mark - Mike Trumpy

    WR—Rashad Lawrence - Cameron Dickerson

    WR—Tony Jones - Kyle Prater

    WR—Demetrius Fields - Pierre Youngblood-Ary

    HB—Dan Vitale - Brian Smith

    OT—Patrick Ward - Paul Jorgenson

    OG—Brian Mulroe - Geoff Mogus

    C—Brandon Vitabile - Hayden Baker

    OG—Neal Deiters - Matt Frazier

    OT—Jack Konopka - Chuck Porcelli


    DE—Quentin Williams - Dean Lowry

    DT—Brian Arnfelt - Chance Carter

    DT—Sean McEvilly - Will Hampton

    DE—Tyler Scott - Deonte Gibson

    LB—Chi Chi Ariguzo - Drew Smith

    LB—David Nwabuisi - Collin Ellis

    LB—Damien Proby - Timmy Vernon

    CB—Quinn Evans - Demetrius Dugar

    CB—Daniel Jones - C.J. Bryant

    S—Ibraheim Campbell - Davion Fleming

    S—Jared Carpenter - Traveon Henry

    Special Teams

    K—Jeff Budzien

    P—Brandon Williams

    LS—Pat Hickey

    KR—Venric Mark, Ibraheim Campbell

    PR—Venric Mark - Ibraheim Campbell

Miss. State Depth Chart and Injury Report

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    Injury Report

    There are no injuries to report for Mississippi State according to USA Today.


    QB—Tyler Russell - Dak Prescott

    RB—LaDerius Perkins - Josh Robinson

    WR—Arceto Clark - Joe Morrow

    WR—Chris Smith - Brandon Heavens

    WR—Chad Bumphis - Jameon Lewis

    TE—Marcus Green - Malcolm Johnson

    OT—Blaine Clausell - Archie Muniz

    OG—Gabe Jackson - Ben Beckwith

    C—Dillon Day - Dylan Holley

    OG—Tobias Smith - Justin Malone

    OT—Charles Siddoway - Damien Robinson


    DE—Kaleb Eulls - Preston Smith

    DT—Josh Boyd - Devin Jones

    DT—Curtis Virges - Dewayne, Cherrington

    DE—Denico Autry - Shane McCardell

    LB—Deontae Skinner - Chris Hughes

    LB—Cameron Lawrence - Matthew Wells

    LB—Benardrick McKinney - Ferlando Bohanna

    CB—Johnthan Banks - Jamerson Love

    CB—Darius Slay - Taveze Calhoun

    S—Corey Broomfield - Jay Hughes

    S—Nickoe Whitley - Dee Arrington

    Special Teams

    K—Devon Bell - Brian Egan

    P—Baker Swedenburg

    LS—Winston Chapman

    KR—LaDarius Perkins, Jameson Lewis

    PR—Johnthan Banks - Chad Bumphis

Northwestern Player to Watch

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    Kain Colter

    Kain Colter is a dangerous man and one of several dual-threat quarterbacks out of the Big Ten conference.

    After suffering what was called an "upper extremity" injury against Michigan on Nov. 10, Colter didn't play in the second half and also missed Northwestern's victory at Michigan State. But Colter is back and should play a pivotal roll in the Gator Bowl.

    While Mississippi State sports a bend-but-don't-break defense, allowing 22.4 points-per-game, it has a middle-of-the-road pass defense (No. 48 in the FBS) and ranks No. 71 in defending the run.

    This works to Colter's advantage, who is much more dangerous with his feet. The Wildcats are a top-15 rushing team, and Colter has much to do with their success running the ball. 

    There's no doubt that Northwestern will attempt to take advantage of this favorable matchup and call No. 2's number early and often against the Bulldogs.

Miss. State Player to Watch

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    Chad Bumphis

    As a team, Mississippi State doesn't do anything particularly well, but it has quite a threat outside in wide receiver Chad Bumphis.

    He is by far quarterback Tyler Russell's favorite target, and Bumphis has racked up 904 receiving yards, good for 43rd in the nation, to go along with his 12 touchdowns, which puts him in a tie for seventh among FBS receivers.

    Bumphis isn't the tallest receiver, coming in at 5'11", but his experience as a senior and blazing speed is enough to be a thorn in the side of opposing defenses.

    Northwestern makes even the worst passing games look like a well-oiled machine, ranking 102nd in pass defense. This bodes well for Bumphis and Russell, and it will be up to these two to take advantage of this favorable matchup.

Key Matchups

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    Mississippi State's defense has struggled against quality competition this season, and Northwestern certainly qualifies as a quality opponent.

    Against ranked opponents this season, the Bulldogs allowed at least 37 points each time, and concluded conference play by allowing 41 points to their most bitter rival, Ole Miss.

    The Bulldogs' defense is entering the Gator Bowl on the lowest of notes, and things won't get any easier going up against Kain Colter. Fortunately, it has nearly a month to prepare for the dangerous dual-threat QB and the potent Northwestern offense.

    It will also be interesting to see if Northwestern can use the next four weeks to help shore up its pass defense, as Mississippi State has some playmakers in the passing game, and the Wildcats struggle mightily against the pass.

Northwestern Will Win If...

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    Northwestern will win if it can avoid being one-dimensional on offense.

    With Kain Colter and Venric Mark running the ball, the Wildcats should be able to get theirs in the run game, but if Mississippi State keys in on the run, Northwestern has to take advantage by being effective throwing the football.

    Otherwise, a shutdown rushing attack could mean a stagnant Wildcat offense. Mississippi State's defense has been porous as of late, but it will find out as well as anyone what Northwestern's strength is and attempt to eliminate the threat of Colter and Mark.

    To keep Mississippi State honest, the Wildcats will need to throw the ball with at least some effectiveness in order to move the football and put themselves in a position to knock off the Bulldogs.

Miss. State Will Win If...

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    Mississippi State will win if Tyler Russell doesn't throw an interception.

    In games where the junior quarterback tosses the football to the other team, the Bulldogs are 1-4. Russell needs to take care of the football while maintaining his efficiency throughout the game.

    It's already been well-documented how poorly Northwestern defends the pass, and the Wildcats only intercepted nine throws all season. For a secondary that has bee picked apart, it has also struggled to create turnovers.

    Russell only threw six picks during the regular season, so as long as he continues to protect the football, the Bulldogs should be able to keep pace with Northwestern and eventually do enough to win the game.


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    These teams don't share many of the same traits, and that may be the perfect formula to make the Gator Bowl a game to remember.

    As we tend to see year after year what happens during the regular season doesn't translate over to bowl season for multiple reasons, including the lengthy period between the two and the fact that these are kids under a lot of pressure to perform under the magnifying glass of a bowl game.

    This is a Jan. 1 bowl, but these two teams are very well coached. Pat Fitzgerald and Dan Mullen will both have their teams ready to play, looking to exploit each other's weaknesses.

    This sounds like a broken record, but the SEC is the best conference in the country, and the Big Ten had a down year, to say the least. As a result, we'll see Northwestern fall victim to and Mississippi State enjoy the spoils of this fact.

    Get ready for a bevy of offense, a lack of defense and a wire-to-wire thriller.

    Prediction: Mississippi State 38, Northwestern 31