2011 Music City Bowl, Mississippi State Vs. Wake Forest: Bulldogs Win Amidst Cowbell Serenade

Vick Ballard's 60 and 72-yard touchdown runs save a sloppy Mississippi State offense.

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Wake Forest Vs. Mississippi State Recap, Music City Bowl 2011: The Numerical

The stats that mattered in Mississippi State's 23-17 win over Wake Forest in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, from miscues to big plays to poor Tanner Price.

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Mississippi State Vs. Wake Forest Final Score: Bulldogs' Big Runs Lead To 23-17 Victory

Vick Ballard's touchdown runs of 60 and 72 yards were enough for a Mississippi State offense that committed four turnovers and managed little in the way of passing to compliment a stifling defense in a 23-17 win over Wake Forest in the 2011 American Mortgage Music City Bowl at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

Ballard, who finished with 183 yards rushing on just 14 carries, was named the game's MVP, but a Bulldog defense that allowed only 287 total yards and held the Demon Deacons to 2 of 17 on third down kept State from giving away the game. State quarterback Chris Relf finished 12 of 19 for 129 yards and a touchdown, plus 64 yards rushing, but threw two interceptions into the end zone. The senior leaves as the winningest quarterback in school history (.681), passing Wayne Madkin (.676). Even Ballard wasn't immune to turnovers, fumbling to set up a Wake Forest touchdown drive in the first quarter before answering with a touchdown on State's next possession.

Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price finished 24 of 46 for 214 yards for the Demon Deacons, and senior Brandon Pendergrass finished with 73 yards on 24 carries for one touchdown. Wake Forest held the ball longer (35:50) and committed fewer penalties (four for 35 yards compared to MSU's five for 43), but couldn't maintain drives on third down.

After a 7-7 first quarter, Mississippi State built a lead on the momentum of a blocked field goal by senior defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, who swatted a 33-yard attempt by Jimmy Newman in the second quarter. Two plays later, Relf found Arceto Clark for a touchdown, and after State missed the PAT, they'd tack a field goal of their own to build a 16-7 lead and never trailed again.

"Anytime you have adversity, the blocked field goal was really rough because as the game wound down towards the end of the game, that field goal became huge. We make that one, we are in much better shape," Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said.

With the win, the Bulldogs have now won five straight bowl games, tying Rutgers for the longest streak in the nation.

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Mississippi State Vs. Wake Forest Score: Vick Ballard Breakaway Gives Bulldogs 23-14 Lead

After a host of penalties against and interceptions thrown, Mississippi State countered Wake Forest's small momentum with their offense's saving grace - a big run from Vick Ballard. Ballard rumbled 72 yards for a touchdown, bookending his 60 yard score in the first quarter, and the Bulldogs have regained a comfortable 23-14 lead. Counting his breakaway rush, Ballard has 179 yards on 11 carries, just shy of a State bowl record for rushing (Walter Packer, 183 yards in the 1974 Sun Bowl).

The Bulldogs have out rushed Wake Forest 252-45, and the Demon Deacons gained their first third down conversion of the night with 10:32 remaining in the fourth quarter. Still, Wake has dominated the time of possession in spite of trailing total yardage by almost half (380 to 218), holding a ten minute advantage.

For more on Mississippi State, check out For Whom The Cowbell Tolls. Get your Wake Forest news at Blogger So Dear.

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2011 Music City Bowl 4th Quarter Score: Wake Forest Cuts Lead To 16-14

Wake Forest's offense was non-exisistent as Mississippi State scored nine points in the second quarter, but the Deacons opened the third quarter with a seven play, 64-yard drive that took four minutes and reestablished Wake with a Tommy Bohanon one-yard touchdown run. The drive was assisted by a key face mask penalty on Mississippi State's Josh Boyd, who would've sacked Wake quarterback Tanner Price to bring up fourth down.

State would try to respond, but instead delivered their fourth turnover of the night, another interception by Chris Relf, who missed a deep pass the Deacons' Merril Noel would return to the Wake 18-yard-line. The teams would trade punts on three drives before State would turn the ball over again - this time on downs after Relf couldn't convert a 4th and 2 attempt on the Wake 38.

For more on Mississippi State, check out For Whom The Cowbell Tolls. Get your Wake Forest news at Blogger So Dear.

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Mississippi State Vs. Wake Forest Halftime Score: Chris Relf INT Keeps State Lead 16-7

Mississippi State has 243 total yards, 147 rushing, and leads Wake Forest 16-7 despite losing the turnover battle (0-3) and time of possession (12:28 / 17:32) after a sputtering half of football at the 2011 Music City Bowl. The game has seen a stilted first quarter of offense and a second quarter punctuated by explosive plays - namely Fletcher Cox's blocked field goal that would set up a Bulldog touchdown drive.

State's 9-0 run in the second quarter was set up after Cox blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt by Wake Forest, bringing an overwhelmingly maroon and white crowd to life in Nashville and spurring drives of 58, 55 and 51 yards, the last of which ended when quarterback Chris Relf was intercepted in the end zone by Wake's Duran Lowe.

The Demon Deacon offense froze after the failed field goal, amassing only 37 yards on two drives. Quarterback Tanner Price is 11 of 18 for 73 yards, and tailback Brandon Pendergrass has 35 yards on 13 carries, 17 of which came on his first quarter touchdown. Wake is 0-7 on third downs, but converted their only fourth down attempt on a fake punt turned shovel pass, which landed the Deacons the one yard they needed, and the ire of Dan Mullen (and his league approved Power Gloves):

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Photo courtesy of @KegsnEggs

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2011 Music City Bowl Score: Fletcher Cox Swats Mississippi State To Life, Dogs Lead 16-7

Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf hit a wide open - like Alamo Bowl open - Arceto Clark for a 31-yard touchdown pass after defensive lineman Fletcher Cox violated the Wake Forest offensive line to block a 33-yard field goal attempt by the Deacons' Jimmy Newman. Relf would then take a quarterback keeper 27 yards before finding Clark, completing the game's most explosive drive and giving State a 13-7 lead after a missed PAT by Derek DePasquale.

Wake would stall on its next possession, punting after a 15-yard drive and setting up State's longest drive of the night, a 12-play, 55-yard effort taking 4:48 and ending with a 33-yard field goal from DePasquale. The Bulldogs have abandoned balance to run, and primarily straight ahead with Relf. State has rolled up 143 yards on the ground and only 47 passing, most of which came on the touchdown to Clark.

For more on Mississippi State, check out For Whom The Cowbell Tolls. Get your Wake Forest news at Blogger So Dear.

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Mississippi State Vs. Wake Forest Score: Thin Offensive Affair Tied At 7

After both teams combined for -10 yards total through most of the first quarter, Wake Forest and Mississippi State are tied at seven after both teams traded rushing touchdowns.

Wake Forest ended a "defensive struggle" that featured only three first downs combined through eight minutes of play. Demon Deacons tailback Brandon Pendergrass scored from 14 yards out to cap a six play, 38 yard drive set up by a Vick Ballard fumble at State's 38-yard-line, the Bulldogs' second turnover of the game.

State would respond on the ensuing drive when Ballard atoned, breaking a 60-yard run on a failed Wake blitz, tying the game and giving Mississippi State their first positive play from scrimmage of the evening.

With 1:51 remaining in the game, both teams have combined for 23 total yards passing.

For more on Mississippi State, check out For Whom The Cowbell Tolls. Get your Wake Forest news at Blogger So Dear.

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Mississippi State brings everything but offense

The Music City Bowl has benefited in recent years by courting nearby SEC and ACC programs to fill its frigid, steep seats at LP Field - Kentucky's been twice and Tennessee last year - but Mississippi State was no slouch in picking up tickets for this year's game against Wake Forest.

The stadium is almost solid maroon at kickoff, and after athletic director Scott Stricklin's confirmation that bowl officials were officially permitting cowbells, it's been loud - RESPONSIBLY loud, but loud nonetheless. We'll let the anti-noisemaker contingency use that to explain both teams' combined -12 yards off offense and zero first downs through the game's first six minutes.

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photo courtesy @MaroonWyatt

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Wake Forest Vs. Mississippi State, Music City Bowl 2011: Scouring For Watchability

Wake Forest is sneaky-explosive on offense and bad in an entertaining way on defense. Mississippi State has quite a few athletes who can make things happen when not playing an SEC opponent. This makes you want to watch, right?

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Music City Bowl 2011, Mississippi State Vs. Wake Forest: Time, TV Schedule, Odds And More

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the 2011 Music City Bowl on Friday. The Bulldogs enter as seven point favorites despite both teams owning identical 6-6 records.

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Music City Bowl 2011, Mississippi State Vs. Wake Forest: Two 6-6 Teams To Face Off In Nashville

In a battle of two 6-6 teams, the Mississippi St. Bulldogs and Wake Forest Demon Deacons will be trying to avoid a losing season when they square off in the 2011 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday afternoon.

Wake Forest started the season at 5-2 before a three-game losing streak put their bowl eligibility chances in jeopardy. A convincing 31-10 win at home over Maryland got them to six on the season, but the Demon Deacons are coming off a 41-7 loss at home to Vanderbilt.

Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price powers the Demon Deacons offense, passing for 2,803 yards with 20 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Junior wide receiver Chris Givens, who could be playing his final game for Wake Forest, had a breakout season, earning first-team All-ACC honors with 74 receptions, 1,276 yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games in 2011.

Mississippi State became bowl eligible with a 31-3 win over Mississippi in the regular season finale. The Bulldogs are led offensively by senior running back Vick Ballard, who ranked fourth in the SEC with 1,009 yards and added eight touchdowns. Cornerback Johnthan Banks and safety Nickoe Whitley have combined for nine interceptions, with each player ranking in the Top 11 in the country in that category. The play in the back-end of the secondary is a major reason why the Bulldogs allowed just 19 points per game.

Banks is considering foregoing his final year of eligibility and entering the 2012 NFL Draft, Brandon Marcello of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.

For more on Mississippi State, visit Mississippi State blog For Whom the Cowbell Tolls. For more on Wake Forest, visit Wake Forest blog Blogger So Dear.

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Music City Bowl 2011: Chris Givens Could Be Playing Final Game For Wake Forest

Junior wide receiver Chris Givens could be playing in his final game at the collegiate level when his Wake Forest Demon Deacons take on the Mississippi St. Bulldogs in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Friday, December 30 in Nashville, Tennessee.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Givens caught 80 passes for 1,143 yards and 12 touchdowns in 23 games over his first two seasons with the Demon Deacons before breaking out for 74 receptions, 1,276 yards and nine touchdowns in 12 games in 2011. Givens' yardage total this season were a school record and helped earn him first-team All-ACC honors.

Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe chalks up the increased production to Givens buying into the team concept, but Givens tells Dan Collins of the Winston-Salem Journal that he doesn't feel as though he's changed.

"I'm really tired of it,'' Givens said. " I don't really feel it's a new or an old Chris Givens. I've always been a hard worker. I've always wanted to win. My ambition for success often is (misunderstood) as me being a selfish guy...But it's really that I feel I work as hard as anybody on the team. And when it comes down to making plays, I feel like I can do it as well as anyone.

"So it's not really me being selfish. It's more of me just being hungry for success, really.''

Givens is not expected to announce a decision about the 2012 NFL Draft until after the bowl game on Friday.

For more on Mississippi State, visit Mississippi State blog For Whom the Cowbell Tolls. For more on Wake Forest, visit Wake Forest blog Blogger So Dear.

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Dylan Favre Transferring From Mississippi State: Ready Your NFL Jokes

Dylan Favre will leave Mississippi State, Dan Mullen has confirmed. Favre's uncle is famous.

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Music City Bowl 2011: Wake Forest Vs. Mississippi State, According To Reports

Update: CBS Sports now reports it's Wake Forest, thanks to the Sugar Bowl's surprise pick of Virginia Tech.

Two hot head coaching candidates will meet in Nashville, according to reports: the Virginia Cavaliers and Mike London draw the Mississippi St. Bulldogs and ... maybe Dan Mullen? Both coaches have been reportedly Penn State coaching targets. CBS Sports reported UVa, while MSU became known via direct sources:

Scott Stricklin@stricklinMSU Mississippi State is heading to@MusicCityBowl vs. an ACC opponent, Fri, Dec. 30 at 5:40 pm on ESPN. #HailState!    

The Music City Bowl pits teams from the ACC and Big East against one another. The Bowl's inagural game was played in 1998 in Vanderbilt stadium before moving to where the game is played now in 1999, LP Field, the home of the Tennessee Titans. The Music City bowl has a history of upsets occuring, including the most recent upset of Vanderbilt (+4) upsetting Boston College in 2008, making it the seventh team in the Bowls history to win in an upset. Only three teams in the Bowl's history that have been favored have won.

The 2011 Music City Bowl will be on ESPN and available from streaming on ESPN3 and will be called by Mark Jones, Ed Cunningham & Jeannine Edwards. The current sponsor of the bowl is Franklin American Mortgage, having previously had the title sponsor of Gaylord Hotels.

Game date, time: 6:40 pm ET, Friday, December 30th

Location:LP Field, Nashville, TN

TV channel: ESPN/ESPN3

2010 winner and loser: North Carolina, Tennessee

For more on each bowl game as it’s announced, stay tuned to SB Nation’s 2011 college football bowl game bids coverage. And visit our many college football blogs.

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