Mississippi State and NC State haven’t met on the field in 7,668 days, but that 20-year streak ends Wednesday.
Here’s everything you need to know before the Belk Bowl matchup:
Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4, 4-4 SEC) vs. NC State Wolfpack (7-5, 3-5 ACC)
Kickoff: Wednesday, Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Weather: 69 degrees, 80 percent chance of rain (Weather.com)
Line: Mississippi State -7
By the numbers
5 – SEC teams who have been to a bowl game every year this decade: Mississippi State, Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M. Before Dan Mullen, Mississippi State had never been to four bowl games in a row. Wednesday, the Bulldogs will play in their sixth consecutive and look to improve their 3-2 bowl game record under Mullen.
3-2 – NC State’s lead in the series. The two teams first played against each other in 1930 (a 14-0 NC State win) and last played in 1995 (a 28-24 Wolfpack win). The Bulldogs’ two wins in the series came back-to-back in 1940 and 1963. The teams have only met twice at neutral sites (a MSU win in Philadelphia in 1963 and an NCSU win in Atlanta in 1995).
62 – Number of points Mississippi State has outscored its opponents by in the fourth quarter this season. The Bulldogs lead their opponents 96-34 in the final frame, only allowing three touchdowns in the fourth quarter this year.
Storylines to watch
Can Dak Prescott control his emotions in his final game?
Prescott’s final home game came in the Egg Bowl on Nov. 28. He wrote a letter thanking fans the week before and cried during the pregame Senior Day ceremony, and fans waited with bated breath to see how that emotion would translate on the field. But when the game kicked off, Prescott wasn’t himself. The senior fumbled on the opening drive, threw a pick-six, and the Bulldogs found themselves in a 21-0 hole in the first quarter that they were never able to escape. Wednesday will be Prescott’s final game in maroon and white — will he capture the moment or let it control him?
Can Mississippi State find a running game in Charlotte?
Mississippi State has averaged 140.3 yards per game on the ground, an average that puts them at 12th in the SEC and 103rd in the nation in the category. The Bulldogs’ four top running backs have combined for three touchdowns on the year, while Prescott has relied on his legs less often as a senior. It’s been a detriment at times, but it’s never too late to discover another strength in this young offense.
Prediction: Mississippi State 38, NC State 28
Mississippi State set the bar very high last season, reaching the program’s first-ever No. 1 ranking midway through the year. In that regard, the Bulldogs may have underachieved this year. But that in no way means they aren’t still a very good team. While NC State has certainly turned its program around as of late, the Wolfpack will fall just short in their home state Wednesday.