By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Nashville wants Mississippi State, its fans and its cowbells.
The Bulldogs will face Wake Forest in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 in the first meeting between the two schools in football. Each team enters the game with 6-6 records.
MSU beat out local team Vanderbilt for the SEC berth. The Commodores were in this game three years ago and experienced a resurgence this season under first-year coach James Franklin.
But with this year’s game being played on a Friday, Music City Bowl president and CEO Scott Ramsey saw an opportunity to bring in a fan base known for traveling well to spend a “long weekend” in Nashville. Plus, MSU has never before played in this game, which began in 1998 and is held at LP Field, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
“I’ve always said that three years ago, that was the right choice having Vanderbilt,” Ramsey said. “It was the first bowl game they won in over 50 years. As part of our community, that was the right pick, and this year we’re confident Mississippi State’s the right pick because we feel like the fans are going to fill up our city and create a lot of excitement on game day.”
The Music City Bowl will allow MSU fans to ring their beloved cowbells under the same conditions imposed by the SEC. They can be rung when the ball is not in play, and MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said the arrangement with the Music City Bowl is “very fair.”
Said Ramsey, “The cowbells are the symbol of the Mississippi State fan base, and it’s something we’re excited about having, and I know it’ll be a memorable piece of our city that Mississippi State leaves behind.”
This is the second consecutive bowl berth for State, which beat Michigan 52-14 in last year’s Gator Bowl. For third-year coach Dan Mullen, earning another bowl berth is a big step for the program.
“Coming into this year, I knew this was going to be one of the most important years in school history,” he said. “I think making two straight bowl games is a solid foundation as we continue to pursue championships here at Mississippi State.”
The Bulldogs, who are 8-6 all-time in bowl games, will begin on-field preparations Friday, with the first week of practice open to the public.
Wake Forest hasn’t been to the postseason since 2008, when it beat Navy in the EagleBank Bowl.
The Demon Deacons went 5-3 in the ACC to finish tied for second in the Atlantic Division. They’ve lost four of their last five, including a 41-7 loss to Vanderbilt in the regular season finale.
The Music City Bowl will kick off at 5:40 p.m. Central time on Dec. 30 and be televised by ESPN. MSU has already sold out its allotment of 12,000 pre-ordered tickets, so fans wanting tickets must visit TicketMaster.com/MusicCityBowl or call 1-800-745-3000.