OH IT'S TIME, Y'ALL.
Now, on New Year's Eve day, it's time for us to finally yell at each other about whether we think Northwestern will beat Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl. Let's go to our panel of dimwits! Vote in the poll and tell us in the comments.
In the big picture, I like this matchup a lot. Mississippi State got crushed by the meat of their schedule, they didn't beat any quality opponents, and then they laid an egg in a season-ending rivalry game against a mediocre opponent. Northwestern's other SEC opponent from this season, Vanderbilt, is an obvious comparison, and I feel pretty good going up against a team like that. The main concern I have is the MIssissippi State passing game. They throw a bit more than they run, and Tyler Russell has been effective as the quarterback. Still, a healthy Northwestern secondary should be able to limit the damage on that side of the ball, while the Northwestern offense should have a good time working on an inconsistent run defense. Northwestern finally breaks the bowl streak by winning 31-24.
I have almost zero knowledge of Mississippi State football, so I can say with full confidence that Northwestern will win this one easily. My expert analysis tells me that NU will probably use two quarterbacks, will sometimes rush three d-linemen on passing downs, and will kick off at least once. This potent combination of offense, defense and special teams will overwhelm the Bulldogs. Also, while many people are speculating that the Gator Bowl will have strong turn-out from both fan bases, I predict that Everbank Field will be at least 40% empty, based on NU's refusal to disclose its ticket sales numbers and assorted grousing by Gator Bowl executives about the matchup. Mississippi State will be flummoxed by what is known as the "Ryan Field effect," where only one side of a sparsely filled stadium makes tepid noise, while the other side of the stadium stays quiet. This aural imbalance will cause the Bulldogs to false start at least five times and jump offsides at least 10 times.
Northwestern 34, MSU 20
As yet another basketball season draws to a close, it's time to reflect on what we've learned about Northwestern this season, and their star players Kain Colter, Venric Mark, Brennan Cougill and David Nwabuisi.
I'm reminded of a discussion at the end of my freshman year of college, when some friends and I were talking about what we'd learned about school and ourselves during our first year. After some platitudes about balancing a social life and academics, a certain legendary individual I will call only Denny Lemieux, piped in: "I learned that in the bathrooms here, after you take a dump you have to stand up to wipe your ass; the water level is so high your hand inevitably hits it."
Mississippi State 43, Northwestern 42 in triple overtime.
Look, guys, I'm a pessimist when it comes to Northwestern football. I've expected this team to lose each of the past three bowl games. I don't blindly expect success from a team that has shown me that expecting success is for people who like having hearts rended ventricle from ventricle.
But I think Northwestern is going to win this football game. Our strengths match up with their weaknesses, their strengths match up with our strengths. Northwestern is a better team coming off a better season. It's ranked, its favored, and neither of those things seems false.
I'm not saying it's gonna be a blowout. But I do think Northwestern will win. Venric Mark and Kain Colter til the death. Northwestern, 31, Mississippi State, 27.