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MSU confident it will have success against Northwestern


Matthew Stevens



STARKVILLE --¬†Mississippi State University senior cornerback Corey Broomfield laid out how his teammates feel about their New Year's Day opponent --¬†and it's not favorable. 


Translating Broomfield's comments last week, the Big Ten Conference is full of schools that have short, slow players who can't handle the athleticism of players south of the Mason-Dixon line. 


"You can just look at the past," Broomfield said Dec. 7. "I'm not going to talk about scores from the past games. You can look at the track record and whatever conclusion you come to." 


Broomfield, who was the starting cornerback in MSU's 52-14 victory 


against the University of Michigan in the 2011 Gator Bowl, is referring to the Southeastern Conference's perceived dominance in bowl games against the Big Ten. Going back to 2006, the SEC is 11-7 against Big Ten opponents. However, the conferences have three New Year's Day bowl games -- the Gator Bowl, the Outback Bowl, and the Chick-fil-A Bowl --¬†guaranteed to test that mark. 


"It doesn't get any better than having Big Ten and SEC in the state of Florida since we have two other bowl partners that do the same thing," Gator Bowl President Rick Catlett said. "We call it the Big Ten-SEC Challenge down here." 


Broomfield, who is from Palm Bay, Fla., will have more than 20 friends and family in the EverBank Field stands watching him play his final game at MSU at 11 a.m. Jan. 1, 2013 (ESPN2). Before watching film of No. 21 Northwestern (9-3), the senior defensive back who has spent time at nickel cornerback and safety, said he was impressed with running back Venric Mark. The Wildcats' feature back received All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America as a punt returner. The Big Ten coaches also named him to the all-conference team as a tailback. 


Mark is the 39th Northwestern player to earn All-America honors in the program's history. He is the only player from the Big Ten to make the team this season. Mark started every game this year at running back and has 1,310 rushing yards. He can break the school's single-season record for all-purpose yards if he gains 148 yards on New Year's Day. 


"The Big Ten is always playing in the morning, so I caught a few plays," Broomfield said. "I saw the running back breaking loose. He don't look like he is a Big Ten player, so we have to get ready for him." 


So what does Broomfield think a Big Ten Conference player looks like? Slow. 


"When a guy's fast in the Big Ten, he stands out," Broomfield said. "If he was in the SEC, he would be another player. That's the difference." 


Northwestern, which can win 10 games in a season for the first time in school history since 1995 when it last went to the Rose Bowl, hasn't won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, while MSU hasn't lost a bowl game since the 1999 Cotton Bowl (the University of Texas). The schools have never met on the football field. MSU is 3-7-1 all-time against Big Ten opponents. 


Broomfield said Northwestern is filled with athletes who would be "just another player" in the SEC. The Wildcats have the 14th best rushing offense in the county (230.92 yards per game) and are averaging 31.5 points per game. 


MSU leading rusher LaDarius Perkins said Dec. 7 he "has no doubt we'll be able to run the ball against them" even though the Wildcats are 18th in the country in rushing yards allowed (122.75 per game). 


Statistics like those don't have MSU coaches feeling the same way as some of the Bulldogs. Those things are magnified when the coaches evaluate some of the defensive miscues the team made against Troy University and in the regular-season finale against the University of Mississippi. 


"Out of every single formation they have on offense, and they sure do have a lot of them, they attack every part of the defense," MSU linebacker coach Geoff Collins said. "A lot of offenses allow you to load up here or there, but they distribute the field with the way they move the ball around." 


Collins believes Northwestern has a rushing attack that is similar to other power rushing attacks in the SEC despite the fact it has had a reputation as a finesse school due to the perception it is limited recruiting wise because of the school's academic standards. 


"They will be more than willing to get in a fistfight with us, and every position it seems like they have big, strong kids, even at the skill spots," Collins said. 


MSU coach Dan Mullen said Thursday he won't allow his team to be caught unprepared. The veterans already have distributed film on the Wildcats for the Bulldogs to go over before the coaches start installing the game plan Monday. 


"Finals are done now and (there is) not a lot going on around town. I think most people have left," Mullen said. "They get some down time, so they should really be all starting to look at it. The young guys get the opportunity to watch this film, older guys should really be looking forward into a little extra time with Northwestern."



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