Mississippi State Lands the Outback Bowl Bid It Desperately Wanted

Mississippi State’s up and down season closed on a strong note with a 35-3 win over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, and the Bulldogs will look to add one more peak to the 2018 campaign with its first ever appearance in the Outback Bowl, taking place New Year’s Day in Tampa, Florida. The Outback Bowl was one of the only SEC tie-in bowls the Bulldogs had not made an appearance in, which made it particularly attractive to a fanbase that had seen three of it’s previous eight seasons end in Jacksonville at the Gator/TaxSlayer Bowl. The Bulldogs will also enjoy a matchup against a new opponent, the Iowa Hawkeyes out of the Big Ten Conference.

“We are excited to accept a bid to our first Outback Bowl to cap off Joe Moorhead’s successful first season as our head football coach,” MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen said. “I want to congratulate our team and our coaching staff for earning our program’s ninth straight bowl appearance. This team featured college football’s best defense and demonstrated overall improvement throughout the year, as shown by winning four of its last five games, including a dominant win in a rivalry game to finish the regular season. Tampa is a great city, with an endless number of entertainment opportunities for our fans, and we always look forward to playing in an NFL stadium. I encourage our Bulldog family to pack Raymond James Stadium and send our senior class out the right way.”

MOORHEAD VERSUS IOWA

The last time Joe Moorhead went up against Iowa, he was on the winning side of one of the best games of the 2017 season, as Penn State scored with no time left on the clock to grab a 21-19 win over the Hawkeyes. Moorhead is also no stranger to Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, the longest tenured head coach in all of college football. “I am thrilled for our team and our tremendous group of seniors who have earned the opportunity to go out with a New Year’s Day bowl in the state of Florida,” Moorhead said. “The Outback Bowl is the perfect destination for our team. I have always had tremendous respect for Coach Ferentz and his Iowa teams.”

Iowa will be making their third trip to Tampa for the Outback Bowl since 2008. The Hawkeyes are led by quarterback Nathan Stanley, who has thrown for 2638 yards and 23 touchdowns on the season. On the ground, Iowa leans on a two headed attack of Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young, who combined for nearly 1400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Sargent had his best game in the season finale against Nebraska, grinding out 173 yards against the Cornhuskers.

LET THEM RING

Mississippi State fans will be pleased to learn the Outback Bowl will welcome everybody’s favorite artificial noisemaker inside the confines of Raymond James Stadium. Within minutes of the official announcement of the Bulldogs’ appearance in Tampa, Mississippi State athletic officials took to social media with a message to the maroon and white faithful, buy tickets and come to this game. There had been much debate regarding the Outback Bowl’s desire to have Mississippi State as a participant, and whether or not the SEC would push the bowl game to take the higher rated team rather the Texas A&M squad the bowl committee was rumored to prefer. With a new destination, new opponent, and a New Year’s Day kickoff, there should be a sizeable contigent of Bulldog fans in Florida.

We will discuss this in greater detail on tomorrow’s SportsTalk Mississippi, and of course in the coming weeks, we’ll break down the matchup there and on the Thunder & Lightning Podcast.