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2016 St. Petersburg Bowl, Miss St vs. Miami Univ. Prediction, Game Preview, History, Scores

St. Petersburg Bowl Prediction, Mississippi State vs. Miami University Game Preview, History, Scores


Three reasons why you should watch the St. Petersburg Bowl between Mississippi State (5-7) vs. Miami University (6-6), why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.


200-st-peteBroadcast

Date: Monday, December 26
Game Time: 11:00 am
Venue: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, FL
Network: ESPN

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Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history

The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 30 out of 40

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The St. Petersburg Bowl

Can the SEC show it’s the SEC? There are some games that’ll be brought up over and over again if they go the wrong way, and this will be one of them if Mississippi State loses to a MAC team. The Bulldogs might have needed their Academic Progress Report to get a bowl bid, bit they’re in – and they’re going to be fired up for it.

This is the hottest of the Miamis. It was the tale of two seasons with an 0-6 start making this look like yet another Miami season, and then it all kicked in with a six-game winning streak to close things out. The defense has been terrific throughout the season, and then the offense started to step it up.

This needs to be a big moment for the Bulldog 2017 season. Getting the 15 extra practices is the biggest plus for getting bowl eligible. This is a veteran defensive team, and five starters are going to be gone off the offense – how many young players will get involved? Think of this a bit like a glorified Mississippi State spring game at times, depending on the rotation.

Here’s Why Miami University Will Win The St. Petersburg Bowl

Gus Ragland, quarterback. It’s a bit too simplistic to suggest that the season’s turnaround came because of the quarterback switch to Ragland, but he’s 6-0 not as the starter hitting 62% of his passes for 1,274 yards and 15 touchdowns with no interceptions. The 6-1, 211-pounder can run just well enough to give defenses fits, but he has to be the difference. This is his moment to show that he’s the MAC’s next big quarterback thing.

The Mississippi State pass defense has been rocky – to be nice. It’s getting lit up way too easily, allowing over 1,100 yards in the last three games and getting tagged for 200 yards or more against everyone but BYU – and it allowed three touchdowns against the Cougars. The interceptions have been there at times, but eight of the 13 came against UMass, Samford and Ole Miss. That means five have come in the other nine games, and again, Ragland doesn’t throw picks.

The MU run D has been the best in years. Miserable for a long, long time, the RedHawk run defense got better last season, and this year it was fantastic allowing fewer than four yards per carry and over 200 yards twice. There’s not a whole lot coming from the pass rush, but everyone gets involved when it comes to locking up against the run. Defensive backs Tony Reid, Heath Harding and De’Andre Montgomery are among the best tacklers in the MAC.

Here’s Why Mississippi State Will Win The St. Petersburg Bowl

Yeah, Miami University is on a six-game winning streak, but … it didn’t come against a slew of killers. The RedHawks were able to beat Eastern Michigan on the road, and got by Central Michigan, but that’s about it. Yeah, they played WKU in a tight loss, and pushed Cincinnati earlier in the year, but there aren’t any wow wins.

Can the Bulldogs crank up the pass rush? The pass protection has been strong, but the pass rush has been spotty. However, it got stronger late in the season with three sacks in three of the last five games, winning them all.

Nick Fitzgerald isn’t Dak Prescott, but he’s been able to carry the offense. The 6-5, 230-pounder is a big presence who’s just growing into a passer. He’s not accurate enough, and he’ll throw picks, but he’s a 1,243-yard, 14-touchdown runner who destroyed Ole Miss for 258 yards and two scores a week after running for 131 yards and four touchdowns against Arkansas. The quarterback play in the SEC should be stronger next year, and Fitzgerald should be a big part of it. This game should show why.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The St. Petersburg Bowl

Again, it really is a no-win situation for the Bulldogs. Lose, and the SEC lost to a MAC team. Win, and the SEC beat a MAC team. But it’s a bowl game, and Mississippi State has a chance to end the season with six wins. After starting out with a loss to South Alabama, that’s not bad.

Miami University is one of the most successful bowl schools. Granted, the 1947 Sun Bowl win over Texas Tech, the 1950 Salad Bowl over Arizona State, and a slew of Tangerine Bowls in the 1970s are a part of it, but it’s 7-2 all-time. It’s just the second bowl appearance since 2004. Mississippi State has won seven of its last nine bowl games.

Can Miami run the ball? Yeah, Ragland’s emergence became a big deal, but the running attack was the big key over the second half of the season, cranking up 200 yards or more over a four-game stretch. The RedHawk offense ran for 200 yards or more four times since beating Temple in late November of 2010.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The St. Petersburg Bowl?

Mississippi State has the SEC talent, and it’s going to be happy to be bowling.

The effort has been there all season long, but it was rough year when it came to winning the tight games, losing four games by a touchdown or less, and three of those by a grand total of six points.

Miami University will come out throwing, but the Miss State defense will be playing at an extra gear. The RedHawks don’t do shootouts and won’t be able to rally back after getting down early.

Final Score

Mississippi State 37, Miami University 24

Line

Mississippi State -13, o/u: 58.5

ATS Confidence: 1.5
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Must See Rating: 2.5
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St. Petersburg Bowl History, Results

Dec. 26, 2015 Marshall 16 Connecticut 10
Dec. 26, 2014 N.C. State 34 UCF 27
Dec. 23, 2013 East Carolina 37 Ohio 20
Dec. 20, 2012 UCF 38 Ball State 17
Dec. 20, 2011 Marshall 20 FIU 10
Dec. 21, 2010 Louisville 31 Southern Miss 28
Dec. 19, 2009 Rutgers 45 UCF 24
Dec. 20, 2008 USF 41 Memphis 14