December 15, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Jacoby Brissett's college career will end the same way it began - against a Southeastern Conference team.

The former Florida quarterback who transferred to North Carolina State will play his final college game next week when the Wolfpack (7-5) square off against Mississippi State (8-4) in the Belk Bowl.

He said Tuesday that beating the Bulldogs would be ''a way to send the seniors out and a way to springboard into next season's team and the summer.''

Brissett's debut with the Gators came in a loss to LSU in 2011. He went 2-3 against SEC teams before transferring to N.C. State after the 2012 season.

In two seasons as the Wolfpack's starter, he led them to 15 wins and consecutive bowl berths while throwing for 5,054 yards with 42 touchdowns to just nine interceptions.

His last chance to beat an SEC opponent also marks a final opportunity for N.C. State to earn a quality non-Atlantic Coast Conference victory.

The Wolfpack were criticized for a nonconference schedule that included one FCS opponent (Eastern Kentucky), two more that recently at that level (Old Dominion, South Alabama) and a Troy team that went 4-8.

''At the end of the day, the SEC is the SEC,'' defensive end Mike Rose said. ''They're considered the premier conference, so a win against one of their better teams would be good for us.''

Things do get tougher in the coming years for N.C. State - which hasn't played a regular-season game against a team from one of the four other major conferences since the 2012 opener against Tennessee. The Wolfpack draw Notre Dame next year as part of the Fighting Irish's rotation through the ACC, and play a neutral-site game against South Carolina in 2017 in Charlotte.

''I think a lot of people wanted to see us play a Power Five team in those first four (games),'' coach Dave Doeren said. ''I haven't thought about the difficulty of it. I look at it as a challenge.''

Beating Mississippi State would give the Wolfpack eight wins for a second straight season under Doeren.

''Winning's important, period. I think as a coach, why do you coach, you coach to be victorious. You don't coach to lose,'' Doeren said, adding that ''this game won't define us one way or the other. ... (Winning ''will give us a better taste in our mouth going forward.''

To do that, Doeren and the Wolfpack will have to figure out how to deal with two Mississippi State hallmarks - quarterback Dak Prescott and those notoriously noisy cowbells that Bulldogs fans always clang.

Prescott, like Brissett, doesn't throw many interceptions - only four this season - with 3,413 yards passing and 25 touchdowns this season.

''Prescott makes a lot of throws with people around him, (and) he's good with pressure in his face,'' Doeren said. ''He can move to his right and his left and he's got a couple of receivers who are all-SEC players. ... We definitely are playing an offense capable of scoring a lot of points.''

As for those cowbells, Doeren said ''I am not even going to notice'' because his focus will be on the voices in his headset.

''I hope it's loud for both teams,'' he added.

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Follow Joedy McCreary at http://twitter.com/joedyap. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/joedy-mccreary

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AP college football site: http://collegefootball.ap.org

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