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Friday, December 30, 2011
Music City Bowl keys

By Heather Dinich

Here are three keys for Wake Forest heading into tonight’s game against Mississippi State:

1. Continue to protect the ball. Wake Forest has a chance to set the single-season record for fewest turnovers. The Deacons come into the bowl game with just 12 turnovers on the year (8 INTs, 4 fumbles). The school-record for fewest turnovers in a season is 13, set by the 2004 team. Quarterback Tanner Price has done his part and hasn’t thrown a pick since he had three against North Carolina on Oct. 29. Price’s career long streak is 134 attempts without an interception.

2. Get the running game going. The greatest area of improvement for the Deacs from 2010 to 2011 has been its passing offense, but Mississippi State has one of the better pass defenses in the country. The Bulldogs are No. 23 in the country in pass defense and No. 37 in pass efficiency defense. To help open things up for Price, Wake Forest needs to make the Bulldogs respect their running game, which currently ranks No. 96 in the country at 118.92 yards per game.

3. Stop Vick Ballard. The senior ran for 1,009 yards this season and has scored 29 total touchdowns over the past two years. He is coming off an impressive performance in the Egg Bowl, running 23 times for 144 yards and a touchdown and also catching a touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Relf. The Deacs’ rushing defense has been kind, allowing 162.92 yards per game.