TAMPA, Fla. (MSU Athletics/WTVA) - After an eight-win regular season and its highest College Football Playoff rankings finish since 2014, 18th-ranked Mississippi State football will make its school-record ninth consecutive bowl appearance when it takes on Iowa in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day in Tampa.
Kickoff for the Bulldogs and Hawkeyes is noon ET/11 a.m. CT live on ESPN2 from Raymond James Stadium. It’s State’s first berth in the Outback Bowl and marks the third straight Florida bowl appearance for the Bulldogs.
Tickets for the Outback Bowl are on sale now at HailState.com/bowltickets and start at $80. MSU’s ticket allotment is located on the east side of Raymond James Stadium. The NFL’s clear bag policy will be in place.
“We are excited to accept a bid to our first Outback Bowl to cap off Joe Moorhead’s successful first season as our head football coach,” MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen said. “I want to congratulate our team and our coaching staff for earning our program’s ninth straight bowl appearance. This team featured college football’s best defense and demonstrated overall improvement throughout the year, as shown by winning four of its last five games, including a dominant win in a rivalry game to finish the regular season. Tampa is a great city, with an endless number of entertainment opportunities for our fans, and we always look forward to playing in an NFL stadium. I encourage our Bulldog family to pack Raymond James Stadium and send our senior class out the right way.”
No. 18 State (8-4, 4-4 SEC) was the sixth-highest ranked SEC team in the final College Football Playoff rankings. It represented the Bulldogs’ highest finish in the CFP rankings since it was No. 7 in 2014. All four of MSU’s losses occurred to teams in the final top 15, including three on the road. All eight of the Bulldogs’ victories were by double-digits, including a 28-13 win over current No. 19 Texas A&M.
MSU held seven of its FBS opponents to their lowest point total of the year, including current No. 1 Alabama (24), No. 10 Florida (6) and No. 19 Texas A&M (13). The Bulldogs finished with the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense, allowing only 12.0 points per game.
“I am thrilled for our team and our tremendous group of seniors who have earned the opportunity to go out with a New Year’s Day bowl in the state of Florida,” Moorhead said. “The Outback Bowl is the perfect destination for our team. I have always had tremendous respect for Coach Ferentz and his Iowa teams.”
Moorhead is just the second Bulldog head coach to lead his squad to a bowl in his first season, joining Jackie Sherrill, who guided MSU to the 1991Liberty Bowl. Moorhead’s eight wins were the most by a first-year Bulldog head coach since College Football Hall of Famer Allyn McKeen went 8-2 in 1939.
Iowa enters the matchup with an 8-4 record and a 5-4 mark in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes finished in a tie for second in the Big Ten West and boast the nation’s No. 7 total defense, allowing only 289.6 yards per game. It will be the first time the two schools meet in football.
MSU is making its 22nd all-time bowl appearance and is one of only five SEC schools to go to a bowl in every season this decade. The Bulldogs own a 13-8 bowl record, and it will be the eighth time that State will play in a Florida bowl. MSU made an appearance in the nearby St. Petersburg Bowl in 2016 when it defeated Miami (Ohio), 17-16.