TAMPA, Fla. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - For a school-record ninth consecutive season, No. 18 Mississippi State will play in a bowl game as the Bulldogs face Iowa in the Outback Bowl at noon ET/11 a.m. CT on New Year's Day at Raymond James Stadium.
State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) is vying for its fourth nine-win season in the past five years and is searching for its fourth consecutive bowl victory. The Hawkeyes (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) enter the Outback Bowl on a two-game win streak.
This is State's 22nd all-time bowl appearance. The Bulldogs are 13-8 all-time in bowl games. MSU head coach Joe Moorhead looks to become the first head coach in Mississippi State history to win nine games in his inaugural season.
After an eight-win regular season and its highest College Football Playoff rankings finish since 2014, MSU is vying for just the 10th nine-win season in the 119-year history of the program. The 2018 senior class owns a 32-19 record, which puts them in a tie for fifth in MSU history among senior classes. One more win would tie them for fourth place. This senior class has reached a bowl game every year of their careers and has produced multiple nine-win seasons.
This is MSU's eighth all-time bowl appearance in the state of Florida (4-3) and fifth bowl in the Sunshine State in the past six years (third straight). The Bulldogs defeated Louisville, 31-27, in the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl on Dec. 30 at Everbank Field in Jacksonville last season for its third-straight bowl win.
MSU is one of five SEC teams who has been to a bowl every season this decade (Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M the others). MSU's streak of nine straight bowls is currently the fifth-longest in the SEC.
The Bulldogs feature numerous future NFL players who intend on playing in their final game, including defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. A likely first round pick, Simmons declared for the 2019 NFL Draft but will play in the Outback Bowl.
In his first year at MSU, Broyles Award finalist defensive coordinator Bob Shoop directed arguably the best defensive unit in college football during the 2018 regular season. His unit is ranked No. 1 in the FBS in scoring defense (12.0), fewest touchdowns allowed (12), pass efficiency defense (97.26), red-zone touchdown percentage (25.0) and fewest 50+ yard plays allowed (0) and is second in yards per play allowed (4.14).
Shoop's squad is the only defense in college football that ranks in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense (1st - 12.0), rushing defense (9th - 104.25), passing defense (6th - 164.2) and total defense (3rd - 268.4).
State held seven of its FBS opponents to their lowest point total of the year, including current No. 1 Alabama (24), No. 10 Florida (13) and No. 19 Texas A&M (13).
By The Numbers
99 – Career total touchdowns responsible for by senior QB Nick Fitzgerald, two shy of tying for sixth all-time in SEC history
9 – Games MSU has allowed fewer than 14 points this season, which are the most in the FBS.
4 – Bulldogs who earned All-America honors in 2018 (S Johnathan Abram, C Elgton Jenkins, DE Montez Sweat, DT Jeffery Simmons), the most since 2000
96 – TFLs by MSU this season, which led the SEC during the regular season and are two shy of matching the single-season school record of 98 set in 2015