After all the hand wringing, we ended up exactly where we were probably headed before our dismal showing in the Egg Bowl, Jacksonville. Even though this bowl isn't going to get a ton of media attention, it's a matchup of two teams that should find a lot of similarities.
The disrespect angle
I expect to see a lot of posts on message boards and in the comments sections of each schools' beat writer about how no one outside either fan base respects them. Are they wrong? Not necessarily. If either school plays another "traditional powerhouse" they will not likely be favored and they will most likely be picked against. So, there's one thing we have in common.
Both schools want to make the leap from middle of the pack to conference contenders. Northwestern probably got closer to that than State did this year. They could have easily won every game they played. There were times for State that we didn't look like we belonged on the same field as the team we were playing. A win in the bowl might provide the momentum that either school needs to make the leap they want to make.
Taking care of business
Both teams did a great job of winning the games they were supposed to. It's pulling the upset that they both struggle with. State's resume includes a 6-0 record against bad teams, a1-1 record against decent/good teams (MTSU is not a bad team guys), and an 0-3 record against the Big Boys. I don't know the breakdown of NU's records but I know they were 0-3 against Michigan, Nebraska, and Penn State. They had double digit leads in all three of those games during the4th quarters. They have to learn to seal the deal.
Both teams should see areas that they can take advantage of. State has been gashed on the ground at times, and has absolutely no pass rush which hurts their otherwise talented secondary. Northwestern has run the ball as well as they ever have under their current head coach so it is a big concern for State fans. On the otherside, Northwestern has been hurt by teams with effective passing attacks. I would not be surprised to see Tyler Russell, Chad Bumphis, Chris Smith, and the rest of the Bulldog receiving corps have a big game.
I think it will be a good game against schools that have a lot in common when it comes to football. It won't attract a lot of attention, but the nice thing about that is it might cut down on the trolls from other fan bases. Not confident enough to make a prediction at this point, that may come at a later time after I have had a chance to research the teams and matchups a little more.