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.