The two improbable teams that were counted out midway through the regular season will clash in this year's AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Mississippi State and Rice weren't expected to do much this year, but they ended the regular season on fire to qualify for a bowl appearance. The Owls even shocked their way to a C-USA title.
Rice won its first conference title since 1957 and qualified for its second straight bowl appearance. It's the first time the Owls are going bowling in back-to-back seasons since 1960-61. The program has won 10 games for the second time since 2008 and ended the season on a four-game winning streak.
Mississippi State won its last two games of the regular season to become bowl eligible for the fourth straight season. Good news for the Bulldogs is that head coach Dan Mullen is 2-1 in bowl games. Mississippi State also played in the Liberty Bowl in 2007 and won 10-3 over UCF.
The Bulldogs have won the only previous meeting against Rice back in 1975.
Time: Dec. 31. @ 4:00 p.m. ET
Place: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (Memphis, Tenn.)