Mississippi State football kicks off against Miami (Ohio) in the St. Petersburg Bowl at 11 a.m. ET Monday, Dec. 26.
The Bulldogs (5-7) became bowl eligible because of their APR score, but they enter the St. Petersburg Bowl with plenty of momentum after their regular season ending 55-20 throttling against rival Mississippi. Led by Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State has the sixth-ranked scoring offense and total offense in the SEC. While a win over the 6-6 Redhawks would surely add some positive news into the offseason, the Bulldogs arguably have the most underrated SEC quarterback — and a darkhorse Heisman contender — returning for 2017.
Fitzgerald will be the conference’s leading returner in total offense next season, as he averaged 294.2 yards this year. Most impressively, he rushed for 1,243 yards in 12 regular season games, including a 258-yard game against the Rebels on only 14 carries.
Miami’s rushing defense has ranked in the top-40 nationally this year, but it gave up 187 and 247 rushing yards in consecutive games to end the season. Fitzgerald could have a big day.