Gator Bowl Betting Preview: #20 Northwestern Wildcats vs Mississippi St Bulldogs

2013 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
Tuesday, January 1, 2012, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
#20 Northwestern Wildcats vs Mississippi State Bulldogs
Everbank Field – Jacksonville, Florida
Opening Line: Mississippi St -3 (-105)
Current Line: Northwestern -1 1/2
Opening Total: 52
Current Total: 54
Opening Money Line: Mississippi St -130 / Northwestern +110
Current Money Line: Northwestern -125 / Mississippi St  +105

Northwestern looks for their first bowl win since 1948 as they take on Mississippi St in the Gator Bowl.

The 9-3 Northwestern Wildcats take on the 8-4 Mississippi St Bulldogs in the Gator Bowl Tuesday in Jacksonville. This is the first ever meeting between the two schools. Northwestern is 1-9 all-time in bowls. The Wildcats won their first bowl game in the 1948 Rose Bowl and have lost 9 straight since then. Northwestern lost 33-22 to Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas last year. Mississippi St is 10-6 all-time in bowl games. The Bulldogs have won 5 straight bowl games including 23-17 over Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl last year.

Northwestern was 5-3 in the Big Ten Legends Division under coach Pat Fitzgerald. The Wildcats have won 3 straight games. Northwestern has losses at Penn St 39-28 and at Michigan 38-31 in overtime, and at home against Nebraska 29-28. The Wildcats have home wins over Vanderbilt 23-13, Boston College 22-13, South Dakota 38-7, Indiana 44-29, Iowa 28-17 and Illinois 50-14 to close out the regular season, along with road wins at Syracuse 42-41, Minnesota 21-13 and Michigan St 23-20. Northwestern is 11-1 ATS and the total is 5-6 this season.

Northwestern is averaging 397.8 yards per game on offense, including 166.8 passing yards and 230.9 rushing yards. The Wildcats are #112 nationally in passing and #15 rushing out of 124 teams. Northwestern is outscoring teams 32-23 this season. The Wildcats are +13 in turnovers with 12 giveaways. Northwestern is averaging 53 penalty yards per game and has allowed 16 sacks. The Wildcats are 88/192 on third and fourth down conversions and 45/51 scoring in the red zone with 31 touchdowns. On defense, Northwestern is allowing 385.3 yards per game, including 261.6 passing and 123.8 rushing yards. The Wildcats are #97 in passing defense and #21 against the rush. They are #31 in points allowed thanks to forcing 25 turnovers and 25 sacks. Wildcat opponents are 85/198 on third and fourth down conversions and 36/45 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns. Northwestern has 2 punt returns for touchdowns and 2 defensive touchdowns.

Northwestern uses two quarterbacks. Trevor Siemian has completed 116 of 197 passes (58.9%) for 1,192 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, along with 34 rushing yards. Kain Colter has completed 92 of 134 passes (68.7%) for 796 yards with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The versatile Colter also has 158 carries, 820 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 169 yards.

Running back Venric Mark has 213 carries, 1,310 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 18 catches, 101 yards and a touchdown. Mark has over 2,000 all-purpose yards and 2 punt returns for a touchdown. Mike Trumpy has 73 carries, 342 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 7 catches for 43 yards.Tyris Jones and Treyvon Green will also get some carries.

Receiver Christian Jones has 30 catches, 373 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tony Jones has 29 catches, 335 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Rashad Lawrence has 32 catches and 303 yards. Demetrius Fields has 31 catches, 264 yards and a touchdown. Dan Vitale has 21 catches, 206 yards and 2 touchdowns. Four defensive players are on the injury report including 3 linebackers.

Mississippi St was 4-4  in the SEC under coach Dan Mullen. The Bulldogs started off 7-0 but have gone 1-4 down the stretch. Mississippi St has home wins over Jackson St 56-9, Auburn 28-10, South Alabama 30-10, Tennessee 41-31, Middle Tennessee St 45-3 and Arkansas 45-14. The Bulldogs have road wins at Troy 30-24 and Kentucky 27-14. Mississippi St has road losses at Alabama 38-7, LSU 37-17, and Ole Miss 41-24 to close out the regular season, along with a home loss against Texas A&M 38-13. MSU is 6-6 ATS and the total is 4-6-1 this season.

Mississippi St is averaging 389.5 yards per game on offense including 248.4 passing and 141.1 rushing yards. The Bulldogs are outscoring teams 30-22 this season. MSU is +17 in turnovers with 13 turnovers. The Bulldogs have allowed 16 sacks this season and average 41 penalty yards per game. MSU is 69/173 on third and fourth conversions and 36/47 scoring in the red zone with 29 touchdowns. On defense, the Bulldogs are allowing 389.9 yards per game, including 223.9 passing and 166 rushing yards. The Bulldogs are 49th or worse in all defensive categories except points allowed. They are 28th in that category thanks to forcing 30 turnovers and 19 sacks this season. Bulldog opponents are 78/179 on third and fourth down conversions, and 30/38 scoring in the red zone with 20 touchdowns. The Bulldogs have two pick sixes and a kick return for a touchdown.

Mississippi St quarterback Tyler Russell has completed 219 of 366 passes (59.8%) for 2,791 yards with 22 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, along with 2 rushing touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury. If he can’t go then back-up quarterback Dak Prescott has 194 passing yards with 4 touchdown passes, and 98 rushing yards with 4 touchdowns.

Running back LaDarius Perkins has 186 carries, 940 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 19 catches for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns. Derrick Milton and Josh Robinson will also get some carries, along with the quarterbacks. Nick Griffin is out for the season with a knee injury. Receiver Chad Bumphis has 55 catches, 904 yards and 12 touchdowns. Chris Smith has 45 catches, 540 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Arceto Clark has 33 catches for 451 yards. Marcus Green has 19 catches, 215 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Mississippi St is 6-2 ATS after passing for more than 280 yards, and after allowing more than 280 passing yards, 11-5 on grass, 2-5 in non-conference games, after allowing more than 200 rushing yards, and rushing for less than 100 yards, and 1-4 overall.

Northwestern is 6-0 ATS after passing for less than 170 yards, 5-0 after a cover and after allowing less than 20 points, 4-0 against teams with winning records, in non-conference games, and on grass, 11-1 overall, 7-1 after a straight up win and after rushing for more than 200 yards, 4-9 after allowing less than 275 yards, and 4-14 after a straight up win by more than 20 points.

Mississippi St started off red hot but has really struggled down the stretch. If Russell can’t go, that will hurt the passing game of course, as Prescott has only 38 pass attempts. I think Northwestern’s power running game will wear down Mississippi St and Northwestern gets their first bowl win in 65 years.

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