December 5, 2016 10:18:11 AM
STARKVILLE -- Despite finishing 5-7, the Mississippi State football team is going to a school-record seventh-straight bowl game.
Thanks to an Academic Progress Rate (APR) score of 971, MSU and North Texas earned the right to go bowling despite having 5-7 records. MSU will play Miami (Ohio) at 10 a.m. Monday, Dec. 26, in the St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, the bowl and both schools announced Sunday afternoon.
"This is a great opportunity for one of the winningest senior classes in school history and for our program to build momentum for 2017," MSU coach Dan Mullen said in a statement released by the school. "It also speaks volumes of our student-athletes for their commitment in the classroom to qualify for a bowl based on our successful APR."
Cowbells will be allowed in Tropicana Field. MSU fans can buy tickets through the MSU ticket office. Tickets start at $60.
It is the 20th bowl appearance for the Bulldogs. MSU is 11-8 in bowl games, and 4-2 under Mullen. The seventh bowl appearance by Mullen is the most by a MSU coach. Jackie Sherrill led MSU to six bowl games from 1991-2003.
This will be the sixth bowl game MSU has played in Florida, and the first in St. Petersburg.
"St. Petersburg is an excellent destination, and our fans have shown over the years how well they travel to support the Bulldogs," MSU Director of Athletics John Cohen said in a statement released by the school. "We look forward to the experience of playing a bowl game in the state of Florida for the third time in five seasons. Congratulations to head coach Dan Mullen and his staff on earning a bid to the St. Petersburg Bowl."
MSU is one of five SEC teams (Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Texas A&M) to go to a bowl game every season this decade.
The Bulldogs will begin bowl practice Friday. Finals start today and run through Friday.
MSU began the season 2-2 with a season-opening home loss to South Alabama. MSU also lost at LSU, but beat South Carolina and Massachusetts. MSU then lost three in a row (Auburn, BYU, and Kentucky) before beating Samford and Texas A&M. MSU finished 1-2 down the stretch, including a 55-20 victory against Ole Miss on Nov. 26 in the Battle for the Golden Egg to finish 3-5 in the Southeastern Conference, good enough for sixth in the SEC Western Division.
Miami began the season 0-6, but it won its final six games to become bowl eligible. The RedHawks went 6-2 in the Mid-American Conference. This will be the 11th bowl game for Miami, and the first since playing in the 2010 GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. The RedHawks are 7-3 in bowl games.
This will be the first meeting between MSU and Miami.
"We are thrilled and honored to be selected to play in the St. Petersburg Bowl," Miami coach Chuck Martin said in a statement released by the school. "This is a great reward for our players and staff who have put in so much work and effort to build our program back to bowl eligibility. It will be exciting to be able to spend the holiday season with the RedHawk family in St. Petersburg."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Ben Wait on Twitter @bcwait
Ben Wait reports on Mississippi State University sports for The Dispatch.
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