STARKVILLE, Miss.–As faithful Mississippi State University football fans prepare for the Bulldogs’ third consecutive post-season bowl game, many are headed to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Jan. 1 bowl game will feature the Bulldogs facing off against the Wildcats of Northwestern University of Evanston, Ill., on EverBank Field at noon EST, 11 a.m. CST, in the first-ever football meeting between the schools.
Even with national television coverage provided by ESPN2, approximately 10,000 Bulldog supporters will visit the Sunshine State’s largest city for the game and various related activities. Cowbells will be allowed inside EverBank Field, and fans are encouraged to wear maroon.
Festivities will begin Friday, Dec. 28, at the Latitude 30 Player Outing from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. EST. To attend this and other various events, participants must pre-purchase THE PATCH, available for $10 at http://www.gatorbowl.com. Attendees will enjoy food and entertainment alongside football players.
At 8 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Breakfast will be offered at Celebration Church’s Deerwood campus. For $25, attendees may join coaches and players from both teams for fellowship, devotion and a meal. Michael Dean Chadwick, father-in-law of Major League Baseball’s Josh Hamilton, will be the keynote speaker.
At 10 a.m., Monday, Dec. 31, the Gator Bowl VyStar 5K Run will begin. Entries cost $20 for runners registering before Dec. 22. Visit the Gator Bowl website for more information.
Later that day at 1 p.m., Bulldog fans who take the escalator to the top-floor food court at Jacksonville Landing may pick up free pom-pons and “Beat Northwestern” stickers. A 1:30 p.m. Southeastern Conference Pep Rally at the landing will feature the Famous Maroon Band, MSU cheerleaders and a range of food and beverage options. Bulldogs should bring their cowbells.
At 3:30 p.m., the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl Parade will begin. Reserved seats cost $10.
Also from Jacksonville Landing on New Year’s Eve will be a live broadcast of the Bulldog radio show featuring game announcers Jim Ellis, Bart Gregory and Matt Wyatt, along with former player and veteran sideline commentator John Correro. Broadcast time and location will be announced later. Fans unable to be in Jacksonville may listen on MSU radio affiliates.
After 8 p.m., fans under 21 will need THE PATCH to enter Jacksonville Landing. Purchases may be made during the pep rally and parade but will not be available that evening. Other purchase sites include the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront and Sawgrass Marriott.
Fans purchasing THE PATCH will receive one free beverage at the landing, as well as 15 percent discounts on bowl merchandise and other dining and service benefits listed online. It also provides free entrance to the Tuesday tailgate party prior to the game.
The Budweiser Tailgate Party opens at 9 a.m. New Year’s Day, offering interactive games, a variety of food vendors and live entertainment — including both universities’ bands and cheerleaders. Admission costs $10 for those who didn’t purchase THE PATCH.
At the pre-game event, a Touchdown Party is being sponsored by the Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville’s daily newspaper. The $50 Touchdown Party admission covers all-you-can-eat Bono’s Bar-B-Q and all-you-can-drink soft and hard beverages.
The traditional pre-game Dawg Walk gets under way at 10 a.m. near the MSU tailgate area. With cowbells and pom-pons in hand, supporters of the Maroon-and White will welcome the team to the stadium, where gates open 2 hours prior to kickoff.
Following the Dawg Walk at 10:50 a.m. will be another MSU pep rally at the Budweiser Tailgate Party. Spirit groups and the band again will be in attendance as the MSU Alumni Association dispenses more pom-pons and “Beat Northwestern” stickers.
Bulldogs also may tailgate in EverBank Field Parking lots. Fans will be allowed one parking space per $25 parking pass. If additional room is needed for tailgate set ups, additional parking passes must be purchased and displayed so they clearly are visible to stadium staff. Fans with recreational vehicles or trailers will need special passes to access the appropriate lot.
For more information, visit the MSU Gameday website at http://www.hailstate.com/gameday.