It has been a disappointing season for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Although making a bowl game while playing in the SEC is a pretty solid accomplishment, not proving anything along the way can be seen as somewhat of a letdown. Mississippi State hasn’t beaten a ranked team all season long, going 0-5 against such teams.
On the other side of the field, the Rice Owls are on somewhat of the same playing field as the Bulldogs. Although they don’t play the same type of stiff competition as Mississippi State, they have lost to three bowl bound teams and haven’t beaten anyone with a pulse.
Mississippi State finished the season with a 6-6 record and senior quarterback Tyler Russell didn’t live up to anyone’s expectations. The senior took a backseat to sophomore Dak Prescott all season long, passing for just 875 yards and five touchdowns while Prescott passed for 1,657 yards and seven scores. The sophomore also rushed for 751 yards and 11 touchdowns — leading the team. Jameon Lewis leads the team in receiving with 55 catches for 703 yards and five touchdowns.
Rice has posted 10 wins on the season and have looked impressive in C-USA play. Losing to some tough opponents seems to have made them stronger and an even better overall team. Many teams who have success are usually backed with starting quarterbacks who are seniors and Rice is no different. Taylor McHargue is a third-year starter who has passed for 2,261 yards and 17 touchdowns, hitting Jordan Taylor 54 times for 846 yards and eight scores. The run game ranks 16th in the nation behind Charles Ross‘ 1,252 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Bulldogs has been just a tad above average this season. Mississippi State ranks 42nd in points allowed per game as well as 46th in yards allowed per game. Rice has fared a little better this season, ranking 33rd in points allowed and a stellar 20th in yards allowed per contest.
Rice and Mississippi State will face off in the 2013 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., at 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Dec. 31. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
PREDICTION: Mississippi State 27, Rice 20
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.