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2012 Gator Bowl: Mississippi St. Bulldogs vs. Northwestern Wildcats Free Gambling Predictions & Preview

Bulldogs vs Wildcats NCAA Football Spread/Handicapping

Though Northwestern narrowly missed a shot at a Big Ten title this season in a down year for the conference, the pressure will be grave for the Wildcats to win their first bowl game since 1949. Remarkably, Northwestern has lost nine consecutive bowl games since winning the ’49 Rose Bowl.

Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (9-3)
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, Noon EST
Everbank Field, Jacksonville FL
Betting Information Courtesy Sportsbook.ag
Miss. St. -135, Northwestern +115
Miss. St. -2.5, Northwestern +2.5
Over/Under: 51.5

ATS Matchup Stats | Gambling Insight!

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Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald helped lead the purple crew from Evanston, Illinois, to a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl appearance in 1996 as a player, but the Wildcats were unsuccessful in bringing home the bowl hardware.

If it’s going to be a different story in northern Florida on New Year’s Day 2013 in the Gator Bowl, it will be a narrative of running the ball and stuffing the run for Northwestern.

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The Wildcats rank an impressive 18th in the nation in rush defense (yielding 122.8 yards per game) and also have a dynamic rushing attack led by junior RB Venric Mark and QB Kain Colter.

Mark and Colter have combined for 2,130 rushing yards and 23 TDs. Both players bring a versatile skill set, as Colter can of course throw the ball and Mark brings value as a dangerous special teamer, handling kick and punt returns.

Quarterback Tyler Russell is the leader for Mississippi State, although he is in rough shape after spraining his ankle in a 41-24 loss to rival Ole Miss in the regular season finale. MSU coaching staff have said that Russell will go in the bowl game, though he may be limited in what he’s able to do under center. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

Back-up QB Dak Prescott better be ready to see some reps on national TV. Mississippi State has a good RB in his own right with LaDarius Perkins, a second-team all-SEC selection this year. The Bulldogs’ most dynamic playmaker, however, probably is WR Chad Bumphis.

The senior from Tupelo, MS was closing on the 1,000-yard barrier with just 55 receptions (16.4 yards per catch average) and added 12 majors.

The SEC has adopted something of a “kiss the ring” mentality, with the perception that it is something of an “NFL Light” and is far superior to any other conference in the country. Much of this perception is justified, given the remarkable skill and depth in the SEC.

Yet, Northwestern had an excellent season in 2012 and will scrap tooth and nail to reverse its bowl curse and give a strong showing for the Big Ten, in an otherwise dismal year for the conference (re: unranked, five-loss Wisconsin is representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl). The Wildcats had a frustrating OT loss to Michigan that might’ve kept them out of the Big Ten title game, so expect them to be truly up for this New Year’s Day game.

With a battered Russell and a motivated Northwestern squad, I expect the Big Ten to take a little solace in a Gator Bowl victory this holiday season.

With a victory, the Wildcats will be eager to exorcise a long-time demon in its football program.

Score Prediction: Northwestern 28, Mississippi State 24

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