Allstate Sugar Bowl Looks at Big 12-SEC 2015The Allstate Sugar Bowl secured its future through January 2026 with the announcement that it would host the champions of the Southeastern and Big 12 Conferences in eight of the 12 years between 2014 and 2025. If the champion of either or both leagues is selected for the College Football Playoff, a replacement team from that conference will play in the Sugar Bowl. In the four seasons that the Sugar Bowl is not hosting the Big 12 and the SEC (2014, 2017, 2020, 2023), it will serve as a College Football Playoff Semifinal.
After last year’s Playoff Semifinal game, this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl will be the first as the official destination for the top available teams from the Big 12 and the SEC. To lead into the season, the Bowl is providing brief previews of each team in the leagues.
Mississippi State2014 Record: 10-3 (6-2, second in SEC West)
Athlon: Liberty Bowl vs. Texas
Sporting News: Independence Bowl vs. N.C. State
Phil Steele: Liberty Bowl vs. Kansas State
ESPN (Schlabach): Liberty Bowl vs. Kansas State
ESPN (McMurphy): Music City Bowl vs. Michigan
AP: Birmingham Bowl vs. Memphis
Dak Prescott (Sr., QB): 244-of-396 for 3,449 yards, 27 TDs; 210 carries for 986 yards, 14 TDs; first team all-conference
De’Runnya Wilson (Jr., WR): 47 catches for 680 yards, 9 TDs
Fred Ross (Jr., WR): 30 catches for 489 yards, 5 TDs
Beniquez Brown (Jr., LB): 62 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 INT
Will Redmond (Sr., CB): 51 tackles, 3 INT, 3 TFL, 5 PBU
The Bulldogs had one of the top offensive lines in the SEC last year, but with three starters graduating, they lose 114 career starts from the line, with just 32 career starts returning.
Key Early Games
Sept. 5 at Southern Miss (9 p.m. Central, Fox Sports 1): The Bulldogs and Golden Eagles renewed their old in-state rivalry last year with the Bulldogs cruising to a 49-0 victory. This year, State goes South to play in M.M. Roberts Stadium for the first time since 1989.
Sept. 12 vs. LSU (8:15 p.m. Central, ESPN): One of the biggest wins of last season for Mississippi State was its 34-29 victory on the road over LSU. The Tigers were down 34-10 in the fourth quarter before mounting a furious rally – the Bulldogs hope the hot streak for LSU doesn’t carry over to 2015 and Starkville.
After leading the team in interceptions in 2014, Will Redmond is expected to take over the leadership role of the Mississippi State secondary this fall. A six-foot, 185-pounder from Memphis, Redmond has been tabbed for preseason Watch Lists for both the Bednarik Award and the Nagurski Trophy. However, the senior doesn’t put much stock in preseason honors. “You really can’t put too much into it,” he said. “It’s about what you put on film and what you do during the season.” Two of the veteran’s interceptions last season were huge – he picked off a late pass against LSU to preserve the 34-29 victory, then added a pick with 15 seconds remaining against Arkansas to seal a 17-10 victory. ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr., has him rated as a top five cornerback for next year’s draft and he recently posted a 4.38 40-yard dash time which would fare well among the speedsters at the NFL Combine.
No look at Mississippi State would be complete without referencing the fact that the Bulldogs rose to No. 1 in the country for the first time in program history in 2014. MSU was also the first team in history to go from unranked to No. 1 in just three weeks. The Bulldogs beat LSU to climb to No. 12, then Texas A&M to jump all the way to No. 3. In the third week, they took on No. 2 Auburn at home, winning 38-23 to jump to the top ranking. Here’s a look back at the Auburn game, including much of the pregame Gameday fun.
Mississippi State is one of three SEC schools that have never played in the Sugar Bowl. However, the school received plenty of attention last season from the bowl due to the Manning Award, which is sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Each week, after eight quarterbacks are selected as Manning Award Stars of the Week, fans vote on Facebook for the quarterback they thought had the best week of the eight. Dak Prescott was selected as a Star of the Week five times; and each time, the loyal Bulldog fan base assured that he would win the Manning Award Quarterback of the Week honor as well. Injuries late in the year limited Prescott, but he is still just one of three finalists for last season’s overall Manning Award that is returning for the 2015 season.