Bulldogs Settle Into Bowl Game Prep

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-Head football coach Dan Mullen has stated his goal of making his Mississippi State team's trek to the 2011 Progressive Gator Bowl an enjoyable experience, but he also has stressed the importance of the game itself. The Gator Bowl Association has done a great job of planning to make sure the former is accomplished, the latter is a little more tedious in the preparation required.

After arriving at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort on Sunday afternoon, the Bulldogs got a taste of both parts of bowl week within the first few hours. The team went through a light practice inside the Champions Ballroom at the hotel before heading to Latitude 30, a nearby fun spot with a bowling alley, arcade and multiple big-screen televisions, for a welcome party thrown by the bowl hosts.

"That was a really cool event," senior center J.C. Brignone said. "They had good food, and we really enjoyed spending time with each other away from the field."

On Monday, it was again balancing work and play for the Bulldogs. The team had game planning meetings in the morning before heading to the University of North Florida for a full-scale workout. Following practice, the players made their way to Adventure Landing for another Gator Bowl event, this time riding go-carts, taking hacks in the batting cages and testing their short-games on the miniature golf course.

"This whole week is about being able to have fun and prepare for a big-time game and do it simultaneously," Mullen said. "In order to take the next step for this program, we need to make sure we're getting ready to play a really good Michigan team, but this is also a reward for what our players and fans have already accomplished this season."

Mississippi State will switch the order up a bit tomorrow, heading to the Outback Steakhouse Player Party at Jacksonville Beach early in the afternoon before returning to UNF for an evening workout. The Bulldogs are preparing to face the Michigan Wolverines in the 2011 Progressive Gator Bowl. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. ET with ESPN2 carrying the action to a nationwide audience.

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