Mississippi St, Ga Tech a pair of Orange Bowl vets
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) Mississippi State and Georgia Tech are no strangers to the Orange Bowl, and neither are the teams' coaches.
The teams have combined to play in eight Orange Bowls, though this will be Mississippi State's first appearance since 1941 when the eighth-ranked Bulldogs (10-2) square off against the No. 10 Yellow Jackets (10-3) at Sun Life Stadium on New Year's Eve.
The Bulldogs beat Georgetown 14-7 in 1941, but lost in their other appearance in 1937.
''They actually just found the trophy from '41 the other day, and we have it all cleaned up and out on display now,'' said Mississippi State coach Mullen, who also is a veteran of two Orange Bowl games.
He was an assistant at Syracuse when they played Florida in the 1999 game, and an offensive coordinator with the Gators in the 2009 BCS national championship game. Mullen believes that can help the Bulldogs.
''I think my experience of having been here and knowing what it's about, I know how unbelievable it is to be here,'' Mullen said.
Georgia Tech has played in six Orange Bowls, going 3-3. Paul Johnson coached the team in their last appearance, a 241-4 loss to Iowa after the 2009 season.
The Yellow Jackets are accustomed to playing in the postseason; this is Georgia Tech's 18th consecutive bowl game. Johnson and his squad are well aware of the streak.
''It is a source of pride for our program,'' Johnson said. ''We don't want to be the team that breaks it. It's quite a streak.''
The Yellow Jackets also have had success against Mississippi State, going 4-0 against the Bulldogs.
But that's not the history Mullen is focused on.
''For our program it is so special,'' he said of playing in the Orange Bowl. ''A lot of people wondered what we could do and accomplish. It's an unbelievable reward for us to come and play in one of the most prestigious bowls there is with the historical ramifications of doing so.''