AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Date: Dec. 29, 4:30pm
Site: Memphis, TN
Stadium: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Teams: University of Central Florida Golden Knights (10-3) vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-5)
Betting Line: UCF is favored by 3 points.
Brief History:This is one of the more "legit" bowl games -- today will mark the 49th time its been played. Since 1965, the game has made its home in Memphis and has established itself as one of the oldest non-BCS bowls. The bowl game was first played in Philadelphia, at John F. Kennedy Stadium (originally Municipal Stadium) until 1963.
Fun Fact: In 1964, the Liberty Bowl became the first ever bowl to be played indoors, when it was held at Convention Hall (Atlantic City, NJ). Utah defeated West Virginia, 32-6, in front of 6,059 fans
Notable Schwag for the Players: Apple iPod nano, Nike + iPod sport kit, Fossil watch, Nike Vision sunglasses, Nike backpack, Nike running shoes and Nike sandals. Not surprisingly, Nike is listed as a "Contributing Sponsor" on the bowl's official website.
Preview: It used to be that the coaches of the SEC would label the times they played Sylvester Croom and Mississippi St. as a "bye week." Mississippi St. was not looked at as a "tough" opponent you could say. However, the Bulldogs, who went 9-25 in Croom's first three seasons, seem to be turning things around -- after six straight last-place SEC finishes, the Bulldogs are making their first bowl appearance in seven years.
On the other side of the ball, George "I earned a master's from NYU" O'Leary has engineered a turnaround of his own, after enduring an 0-11 season his first year on the job. This is just their second bowl appearance in school history, but they've only been a part of Division I (FBS) since 1997. The Golden Knights are paced by Kevin Smith, who leads all of college football with 188.3 yards/game this year.