Pat Fitzgerald

Predictions 101 — Gator Bowl


Mississippi State vs. No. 21 Northwestern
Tues., Jan. 1 – Noon ET, ESPN2
Jacksonville, Fla. – EverBank Field

Excellent season by Northwestern. Really great job, Pat Fitzgerald.

OK, enough of that.

On to the annual storyline.

Northwestern (9-3) hasn’t won in the postseason since the 1949 Rose Bowl. Granted, there were a few seasons (decades?) where Northwestern couldn’t even make a bowl game. But the Wildcats have dropped nine straight bowl games and it’s getting time to break that dubious streak, wouldn’t you say?

Even going into the Gator Bowl, Northwestern was tweaked by South Carolina coach South Carolina, who said he was happy to be playing Michigan in the Outback Bowl (and not Northwestern) because the Wolverines had much more prestige.

Mississippi State (8-4) is a worthy opponent. The Bulldogs are making their third straight bowl appearance for only the second time in school history. But after a 7-0 start, they lost four of their last five games.

Northwestern’s streak? It’s time.

Opening point spread: Mississippi State by 2

The pick: Northwestern 28, Mississippi State 23

Click HERE to get predictions for the remaining bowl games.

Mark Dantonio quickly tosses aside South Carolina discussion

Mark Dantonio

Michigan State has become a national power under the coaching of Mark Dantonio. The grizzled and confident coach has put together a master plan in East Lansing and has taken the Spartans to the top of the Big Ten along the way, capturing a Big Ten title and victories in the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl as well as in-state dominance over the Michigan Wolverines. Danotnio is preparing his Spartans to take on the Wolverines this week, but with the new vacancy opening up at South Carolina following the sudden retirement of Steve Spurrier, Dantonio has already been presented with the question about his thoughts on coaching at South Carolina.

He did not seem all that interested in discussing the vacancy when meeting with Michigan State media this morning.

“Coach Spurrier’s had an outstanding career there, it’s alma mater, and we’re here to talk about Michigan,” Dantonio said when asked about it today. Video below from the Big Ten Network

Dantonio played defensive back for the Gamecocks in the mid 1970s, which helps make Dantonio an interesting name to mention in any coaching future discussion out of Columbia. While Dantonio may have played at South Carolina for Jim Carlen, Dantonio grew up in Ohio and has coached the bulk of his career within Ohio and the Big Ten. He is also one win away from picking up his 100th career coaching victory, 81 of which have come at Michigan State.

Dan Patrick: Spurrier brought personality to the SEC

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South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is stepping down as head coach of the Gamecocks, and that has the college football world reflecting on the impact he has had on the game of college football. Spurrier’s quips at rivals and revolutionary thoughts on where the sport has been heading were always on the mark, even when his team’s performance on the field was not.

Dan Patrick shared his reaction to the news of Spurrier retiring today on The Dan Patrick Show (simulcast on NBC Sports Network). As many have already suggested, Spurrier’s wit and charm brought a refreshing personality to the SEC.