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Music City Bowl Pick

Wake Forest vs. Miss State

12/30/11

This wasn’t the season Mississippi State fans expected. They ended last year strong and were expected to compete in the SEC West this year. Instead, they were a punching bag and finished with an overall record of 6-6. They will now take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons who also finished 6-6 in the Music City Bowl. Wake Forest enters the game losers of 5 of their last 7 games and are 6.5 point underdogs.

Mississippi’s States offense is powered by RB Vick Ballard. The senior ended the season with 144 yards on 23 carries for 1 TD against Ole Miss. He also had a TD catch in that game. QB Chris Relf has had flashes of greatness, but his senior year has largely been a bust. He could rectify that with a strong bowl showing. The Bulldogs are 9-6 in bowl games and their last one was a powerful 52-14 victory in the Gator Bowl over Michigan.

QB Tanner Hill is coming on strong in the latter part of the year. The Wake Forest sophomore passed for 320 yards and 3 TDs in the penultimate game of the year, a victory over the Maryland Terrapins. He will rely on senior RB Brandon Pendergrass for help. He carried the ball 20 times for 134 yards and 2 TDs against Clemson.

Defense is a strong suit for the Bulldogs. They rank 19th in the nation in Points Against at 19.9 PPG. Wake Forest is much worse in that category at 27.8 PPG.

The loss by Wake Forest to Vanderbilt to end the year could be a warning sign to stay away. It's not that they lost to Vandy, because Vandy has a decent team this year. It's the fact that they lost 41-7 that's troubling. But they did beat Clemson and gave Notre Dame all they could handle. They also knocked off Florida State earlier in the year.

We're going to back Wake Forest here, but it's a weak call. Miss State has one of the best defenses in the country but we're not so sure the offense has the fire power to extend any kind of a margin here.

The Under 48 may be worth a look here as well, simply out of respect for that Miss State "D". They were torn up by Auburn and Arkansas but kept everyone else in check, including Georgia and LSU, a couple of teams known to score some points.

Wake Forest +7 or more and Under 48 total points.

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