NC State (7-5) vs Mississippi State (8-4)
When: Wednesday, December 30th 2015
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Time: 3:30 ET | TV: ESPN
The N.C. State Wolfpack will make the short trip over to Charlotte to play Mississippi State in this year’s Belk Bowl. It will be the Wolfpack’s third Belk Bowl in 10 years and they won the previous two over Louisville 31-24 in 2011 and South Florida 14-0 in the 2005 game, then known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl. N.C. State has 15 players from the Charlotte area, including TE/FB Jaylen Samuels who has 315 yards rushing, 7 touchdowns, 64 receptions, 599 yards, and another 7 touchdowns. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett leads an offense that averaged over 412 yards a game, but did so against the weaker part of their schedule. Brissett passed for 2,448 yards with 19 touchdowns and four interceptions while adding 303 yards and five TDs on the ground. The Wolfpack rolled through their weak non-conference schedule and the lower-tier of the ACC, but had trouble with the big boys. The defense was exposed by Clemson (623 total yards), Florida State (479) and North Carolina (553) – all losses. The running game was solid this season ranking 32nd in FBS, but will be without leading rusher Matt Dayes who is out with a foot injury. Freshman Reggie Gallaspy rolled up 158 yards on just 27 carries in the final two games of the regular season.
Mississippi State has its own dual-threat quarterback in Dak Prescott. The talented senior passed for 3,413 yards with 25 touchdowns and four interceptions while rushing for 541 yards and 10 more scores while completing 66.9% of his passes. All four of his interceptions have come in the last five games, but also 14 of his 25 touchdowns. He put up 508 yards in a wild 51-50 win over Arkansas in week 12. He has some talented weapons to throw to in Fred Ross and De’Runnya Wilson. Ross has 81 catches for 933 yards and 4 touchdowns, while Wilson has 55 receptions, 822 yards, and 9 TDs. The running backs have just about as many yards receiving as they do rushing as Prescott runs the show. The defense gives up a lot of yards especially on the ground. They are ranked 70th in FBS allowing 171.7 rushing yards a game and gave up over 200 to five different opponents. This is coach Dan Mullen’s sixth bowl game in seven years with the Bulldogs. He has a 3-2 record, but has lost two of the last three including a 49-34 loss to Georgia Tech in last year’s Orange Bowl.
This should be a high scoring affair. Both teams struggle on defense, but I believe the Wolfpack will be able to force more turnovers and come away with at least a cover in this one.
Pick: NC State +6.5