10-3 (7-1), 1st Conference USA - East
7-5 (4-4), 3rd Southeastern - West
December 29, 4:30pm, ESPN
Mississippi State won 3 of their last 4 games, two coming against Alabama and Kentucky, to make their first bowl game in since 2000. Those wins probably saved Sylvester Croom's job for another year. Their reward, the nation's leading rusher Kevin Smith and the Central Florida Knights. The Knights beat Tulsa to win the Conference USA crown and have won their last seven games.
The UCF offense is led by the nation's leading rusher, Junior Kevin Smith. In 13 games, Smith has rushed for over 2400 yards and 29 touchdowns; boasting a 6 yard per carry average. But some how he wasn't even good enough to make the trip to New York City for the Heisman Ceremony. Smith quiet all potential talks about him going pro, saying that he will return for his senior season at UCF. At quarterback, Kyle Israel has done a good job throwing for over 2000 yards and 15 touchdowns. He has to admit that with teams focusing on Smith, it makes his job a lot easier. On defense the Knights are 37th against the run but below average against the pass. Their return game is dangerous as they average 24 yards per kickoff return and 13 yards per punt return.
Mississippi State has their work cut out for them on defense, they are good against the pass (10th in the nation) but they know to win this game they have to stop Smith. Only one time this year has a team held him below 100 yards in a game. On offense, the Bulldogs are 80th in the country running the ball and 108th throwing the ball. Those are not eye popping numbers by any stretch. At QB Wesley Carroll has done a good job throwing for 1353 yards and 9 touchdowns while in the backfield Anthony Dixon 980 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.
Hopefully this game, against a BCS school like Mississippi State, can be Kevin Smith's coming out party. It is a shame that this kid has done so much this year, yet received such little publicity. If he has a good game against the Bulldogs, that could start a wave that could potentially lead to a Heisman campaign next season. I like UCF's chances in this game. They are solid on offense, not only with Smith running the ball, but with Israel throwing the ball too. Mississippi State does not have the offensive power to keep up with the Knights in this game. Central Florida 28 Mississippi State 14
Picking Central Florida to Win
ITB Brian Sakowski, Pitch Right, MidWest Coast Bias, Football Frontier, The LSC Scoop, Corn Nation, Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician, Rizzo Sports, Lou Nemec, Lorena The Dodgerchick, Matt Kieta, Brian Isaacson, Jeff Brancolini, Dan Schoonover, Cyril Tircuit, Rodney Polston, Greg Gowins
Picking Mississippi State to Win
ITB Charlie Swager, ITB Ron Juckett, Kansas It's Business Time, Sportsbone TV, MizzouRAH, The Enlightened Spartan, Bastard Sons of Pinfall Marks, Mrs Corn Nation, Sunny Verma, Timmy B, Richard Dixon, Brant Chruscial, Logan Jaffe, Pete Boivin, Jason Stiver,