NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tonight the Bulldogs will take to the gridiron for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl to bring the 2011 campaign to an end.
In doing so, State will send 17 seniors onto the field for the final time in the maroon and white.
Chris Relf, Vick Ballard, and Quentin Saulsberry will highlight a group departing Bulldogs that helped coach Dan Mullen and the MSU coaching staff lay a solid foundation for successful future.
Kickoff is set for 5:40 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.
Relf starts under center
Senior Chris Relf has earned the start at quarterback for MSU in tonight’s Music City Bowl.
Over his career the signal caller owns a .667 winning percentage and has seen action in 25 games as a Bulldog. He has also thrown for 3,168 yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for 1,511 yards and an additional nine scores.
Tyler Russell’s knee injury has improved as the game draws closer leaving his playing time in question.
"Chris (Relf) will start for us,” Mullen said. “Tyler (Russell) said he felt good (Thursday), so we'll see how he goes (today), whether we rotate him or just try to stick with Chris the whole game."
Grobe faces another SEC foe
Jim Grobe, in his 11th season as the Wake Forest head coach, admitted his Demon Deacons weren’t happy campers following their final outing of the season against Vanderbilt.
The Commodores handed Grobe’s club their sixth loss of the season in rather convincing fashion 41-7.
"Certainly immediately after the game we didn't have a very happy football team,” said Grobe. “Having the opportunity to play another game's important to our guys. We're playing a great team in Mississippi State. We know the challenge is great, but that was a bad loss for us at the end of the year."
Wake Forest holds a 35–55 record in the 95 times it has met an SEC opponent.
Grobe on the other hand has a winning record verses the SEC at 5–2.
Spread presents problems
Mullen was adamant when he took the Mississippi State job that the spread offense was something he believed strongly in.
Today, he carries that same philosophy into the Music City Bowl where he’ll face a Deacons squad that is very much concerned about the mismatches created by the spread attack of MSU.
"They do a good job mixing in the option and the throw game, and so for us, it's more of a scheme concern,” said Grobe. “We're very concerned about the things that they do offensively rather than who they've got doing them."
Grobe added his concern wasn’t about the physical nature of how Mississippi State plays but rather the way the Bulldogs create mismatches.
The Bulldogs will take the field in their second consecutive bowl game under Mullen and the familiarity created the second time around is something Mullen feels good about.
"I think we've done a good job (avoiding distractions),” said Mullen. “We're always stressing on our guys about the three or four hours a day that we are on football that they need to be completely focused on football and preparations. And then enjoy the rest of the day doing their other things."
He would go on to say that MSU tweaked a few things from last year’s bowl schedule but left most of the routine intact to help create a comfortable setting of knowing what’s going on around the game.