No. 21 Mississippi State (8-4) vs Michigan (7-5), 12:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Line: Mississippi State by 4½.
Series Record: First meeting.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Probably a recruiting boost and certainly positive feelings heading into the offseason. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez might be able to save his job with a resounding victory, although athletic director Dave Brandon has offered no guarantees.
Mississippi State's defense vs. Denard Robinson. The Bulldogs defended Auburn's Cam Newton relatively well in September, holding the Heisman Trophy winner to 136 yards passing and 70 yards rushing. Can they do the same against the equally dynamic Robinson?
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan: WR Roy Roundtree has played a huge role down the stretch. He torched Illinois for 246 yards receiving and two touchdowns on Nov. 6, and has 27 receptions for 472 yards and four scores in Michigan's last four games.
Mississippi State: LB Chris White leads the team with 105 tackles and six sacks, and might have his hands full trying to corral Robinson.
FACTS & FIGURES
Although temperatures all week were relatively cool — it was in the mid-30s when teams arrived last weekend — it will be around 75 degrees for Saturday's game. "Seventy-five will feel like 95 for us," Rodriguez said. Added Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen: "The hotter the better for us." ... Michigan has lost five of its last seven games this season. ... The Wolverines are back in a bowl game after missing out the last two years. ... Michigan is 18-20 all time in bowl games, including 1-1 in the Gator Bowl. ... The Wolverines are 7-3 in bowl games against teams from the Southeastern Conference and 23-5 overall against the league. ... Michigan will be without backup QB Tate Forcier, who is academically ineligible. Without him, true freshman Devin Gardner will serve as Denard Robinson's backup. Gardner has played sparingly this season. ... Mississippi State has won three consecutive bowl games. ... This is Mississippi State's first New Year's Day game since 1999 and the first in Florida since the 1937 Orange Bowl.
Click here for the NEMS Daily Journal GameDay preview section of the Gator Bowl.