Focus on Youth; Bulldogs Rebound; On the Links

Gator Bowl: No. 21 MSU (8-4) vs. Michigan (7-5), Jan. 1, 12:30 p.m., EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla., ESPN2 (Mike Patrick, Craig “City Slicker” James and Todd Harris)

While Mississippi State has technically begun Gator Bowl preparations, it hasn’t really. On Sunday, the young guys once again took center stage as coach Dan Mullen uses this extra practice time to take a closer look at some unproven players.

As Mullen said, “I’ve seen what the old guys can do.” And really, all the old guys need to do right now is knock off a little rust and stay in shape. The hard work for them will come in due time.

The Bulldogs practice today at 1:30 p.m. – outdoors this time – as they work their way towards Thursday’s scrimmage at Davis Wade Stadium. And like the practices, that session will feature mostly younger players.

BULLDOGS BOUNCE BACK: On the hardwood, MSU’s men bounced back from Saturday’s loss to East Tennessee State by drumming North Carolina A&T on Sunday, 74-58.

How about Riley Benock? The kid recorded career highs in 3-pointers made (five) and points (15). Oh, and a career-high eight rebounds. He’s now averaging 8.4 points per game, third on the team.

As a team, MSU (5-2) made a season-high 15 shots from behind the arc.

The marathon continues tonight against Nicholls State, 7:00 tip.

ON THE LINKS: The folks at AnnArbor.com are getting to know the Bulldogs. … A couple of ex-Bulldogs in the NFL: Anthony Dixon rushed for 60 yards as the 49ers won, and Jamar Chaney got playing time for the Eagles because of an injury to the starting middle linebacker, Stewart Bradley. … NASCAR driver Tony Stewart has a partnership with Mississippi State. Pretty cool.