Miami (Ohio) surely didn’t think it was going to a bowl game this year after a 35-13 loss to Akron on Oct. 8, putting it at an ugly 0-6. But the RedHawks have run the table since, becoming the first team in college football history to finish a regular season 6-6 after losing its first six games. Mississippi State may not have thought it was going to a bowl game, either, after a 5-7 regular season. However, the Bulldogs were able to receive a bid thanks to their multi-year Academic Progress Rate (APR) rankings. It’s a school-record seventh straight bid for Mississippi State to participate in a bowl game.

Game info

Miami (Ohio) (6-6) vs. Mississippi State (5-7)

Dec. 26, 2016

Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida

How to watch

Game time: 11 a.m. ET

TV channel: ESPN

Live stream: You can live stream the game here.

Players to watch

-Much of Miami’s remarkable turnaround has been credited to quarterback Gus Ragland, who returned Oct. 15 after tearing his ACL during spring practice in April. All the sophomore has done is throw 15 touchdown passes without an interception, completing 93 of his 149 passes (62.4 percent) for 1,274 yards. The knee injury hasn’t kept him from also running for a pair of scores.

-Nick Fitzgerald is a true two-way threat for Mississippi State. Not only did he throw for 2,287 yards and 21 touchdowns (against 10 interceptions), but the sophomore ran for a team-leading 1,243 yards and 14 of the Bulldogs’ 22 rushing touchdowns.

Key stats

-The Bulldogs will be the first Southeastern Conference program to appear in the St. Petersburg Bowl, while the RedHawks will be the third Mid-American Conference school (Ohio 2013, Ball State 2012) to appear in the game.

-Miami has a 7-3 record in bowl games but hasn’t participated in one since the 2010 GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

-Mississippi State is coming off a 55-20 road walloping of arch-rival Ole Miss in the annual Egg Bowl game.

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-The Redhawks’ J.T. Jones leads the team in sacks (6.5) and tackles for loss (11.5).

-The Bulldogs are making their 20th all-time bowl appearance and are one of only five SEC schools to go to a bowl game in every season this decade.  

-Heath Harding and De’Andre Montgomery are tops on the RedHawks with four interceptions.

-Senior wide receiver Fred Ross leads Mississippi State in receptions (68), receiving yards (873) and touchdown catches (12).