It’s the end of the line for two quarterbacks who helped define the directions of their respective programs, and they’ll go head-to-head in this year’s Belk Bowl. The Mississippi State Bulldogs have exceeded expectations this season and the NC State Wolfpack continue to make strides, but both figure to look quite different in 2016. With that in mind, there are some good reasons to enjoy the final game of 2015 for both programs.
1. The quarterbacks say farewell
Dak Prescott will wrap up one of the most prolific careers in SEC history after a second straight season of spectacular performances. Prescott led Mississippi State in both rushing and passing, totaling 35 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards. On the other side, Jacoby Brissett wraps up a sterling career at NC State, the engineer of a huge rebuilding job that took the Wolfpack from three wins in 2013 to eight last season. A win for Brissett in the Belk Bowl would give NC State back-to-back seasons with at least eight wins for just the third time since 1992.
2. Battle at the line of scrimmage
Prescott’s ability to scramble makes Mississippi State’s offense dangerous, but the Bulldogs’ offensive line has struggled at times. That could be a problem against NC State’s stout defensive front, led by senior Mike Rose, who finished the season with 10.5 sacks (eighth nationally). The Wolfpack have three defensive linemen with at least 10 tackles for loss, and if they can contain Prescott and apply some pressure in the pocket, the defense could be the key to the game.
3. Both teams would love a signature win
Mississippi State has pulled its share of upsets with Prescott at the helm, but after losing last year’s Orange Bowl to Georgia Tech, the Bulldogs would love to finish off his career with a big bowl win. For NC State, the need to get a signature victory is even bigger. The Wolfpack are just 6-18 against Power 5 foes under coach Dave Doeren and 0-16 against winning Power 5 teams. A victory in the Belk Bowl could be a program-defining win.