Nashville is recognized as Music City, and the home of country music. In Nashville, Dec. 30 will showcase two up-and-coming college football programs in the Music City Bowl as Mississippi State of the SEC takes on Wake Forest of the ACC.
This will be the first time these two teams have met on the football field.
A quick look at the latest Music City Bowl odds shows Mississippi State favored by 7 points, while the total has been set at 48 points.
Mississippi State had one of the toughest schedules in the country, but won six times to become bowl eligible. The school faced five teams ranked in the most recent top-25 polls, including No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama, losing all five times. Recently, MSU won the Egg Bowl vs. Ole Miss, 31-3. Overall, the Bulldogs were 3-3 away from home this year.
On defense, the Bulldogs rank 19th in the country in points given up (20 ppg), surrendering 356 yards per game (195 through the air, 161 via the run) while recording 21 sacks and enticing 20 turnovers two of which were taken back for scores (Johnathan Banks and Darius Slay, interceptions).
Cameron Lawrence leads the defense with 114 tackles (22 more than any other player), adding two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a recovery, while Fletcher Cox has four sacks, 49 stops, a forced fumble, a blocked kick and a fumble recovery. Banks has five picks, three forced fumbles and 64 tackles.
On offense, the Bulldogs rate 73rd in the nation in points scored (25 ppg) while totaling 355 yards per game (186 through the air, 169 via the run). Chris Relf and Tyler Russell have combined to complete 57 percent of their passes for 2,117 yards and 17 TDs with 11 interceptions.
Chris Smith and Arceto Clark anchor the pass-catching group with 58 combined receptions for 687 yards and five scores, while Vick Ballard leads the ground attack with 1,009 yards and eight touchdowns on 5.6 yards per tote.
The Demon Deacons began the season 4-1, but struggled to a 1-4 finish to the year, capped by a 41-7 home loss to Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale. Wake tied for second in the ACC Atlantic Division (5-3). Overall, Wake was 2-3 away from home this season.
The Deacons rank 62nd nationally in points (27 ppg) while gaining 375 yards per game (256 through the air, 119 via the run). Tanner Price has connected on 61 percent of his passes for 2,803 yards and 20 TDs with six interceptions. The offensive line has allowed 29 sacks.
Chris Givens paces the receiving corps with 74 receptions for 1,276 yards and nine TDs, with Michael Campanaro adds 63 receptions for 705 yards and two scores. Brandon Pendergrass leads the running game with 750 yards and eight scores on 4.6 yards per attempt.
Defensively, Wake Forest ranks 70th in the nation in points allowed (28 ppg), allowing 399 yards per game (236 via the pass, 163 on the ground) while recording 10 sacks and enticing 17 turnovers.
Cyhl Quarles paces the defense with 96 stops (31 more than any other player), chipping in two fumble recoveries, while Josh Bush has six interceptions with 56 tackles. Kyle Wilber has 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles, adding 65 tackles, a blocked kick and a fumble recovery.