Greg Smith (right), Gator Bowl Association immediate past chairman and current selection committee chair, on Sunday announced Northwestern University and Mississippi State University have accepted invitations to play in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl on New Year's Day.
The annual game began pitting schools from the Big 10 and Southeastern Conference since the 2011 game, when Mississippi State defeated Michigan 52-14.
Mississippi State, located in Starkeville, Miss., and known for their cowbell-ringing fans, is in the SEC and finished the regular season 8-4. It is the first team to return to Jacksonville under the game's new conference affiliation. Northwestern, out of the Big 10 and with campuses in Chicago and Evanston, Ill., finished the regular season 9-3 and will make its first appearance in the Gator Bowl.
Rick Catlett, association president and CEO, stressed that tickets for the best seats at the game have been allotted to the schools and may be purchased by contacting them directly. Tickets not sent to the schools are available at the Arena box office, Walmart ticket outlets and tickemaster.com.