The football coaches of the teams headed to Charlotte for this year’s Belk Bowl say fans are likely to see an offensive shootout.
“With the way North Carolina State can score points, and the way our team can move the ball, I think fans are in for an exciting game,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Tuesday.
Mullen’s Bulldogs (8-4) will face the Wolfpack (7-5) at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 30 at Bank of America Stadium.
The annual FanFest, featuring Grammy Award-winner Carrie Underwood and open to the public, will precede the game.
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Each of this year’s Belk Bowl teams averages more than 400 yards offense a game, and each allows more than 330 yards. The quarterbacks are among the best in college football. Mississippi State is led by Dak Prescott, a senior who has thrown for 3,413 yards and rushed for 741 more. N.C. State senior Jacoby Brissett has thrown for 2,448 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Each quarterback has only four interceptions this season.
Prescott is near or has surpassed SEC records held by such former stars as Bo Jackson, Peyton Manning and Tim Tebow.
“He is an amazing player, and he’s been at his best in our bowl games,” Mullen said, adding that Prescott set a number of records in the 2013 Liberty Bowl and in last season’s Orange Bowl.
Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said he expects a big turnout by N.C. State fans and a de facto home-field advantage. And, he said, playing in Charlotte will give the Wolfpack a boost in recruiting.
“When I was hired here, this was the first place I came,” Doeren said. “There is a great talent pool in Charlotte. We have 15 players from the Charlotte area, and many of them are among our regulars.”
Doeren said a number of players’ family members couldn’t make the trip last season when the Wolfpack beat Central Florida in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
“With us playing in Charlotte, the family members will have a much easier time making the trip this year,” he said.
The Wolfpack and Bulldogs have met five previous times, but not since 1994, when N.C. State won 28-24 in the Peach Bowl. Before that, their last meeting was in the 1963 Liberty Bowl, when Mississippi State won 16-12.
The teams are scheduled for a home-and-home series in 2020 and 2021, playing the first game in Raleigh and the second in Starkville, Miss.
Tickets for the Belk Bowl are available at http:/belkbowl.com/tickets, or at the Bank of America ticket window.