This game was notable in that it was the first time Texas had reached the post-season since the 1996 season. It was the first bowl game for Texas under new head coach Mack Brown, who would go on to transform Texas back into a college football powerhouse. Texas had compiled an 8–3 season record.
Meanwhile, Mississippi State had compiled an 8–3 regular season record under head coach Jackie Sherrill. They won the SEC West division title before falling to Tennessee 24–14 in the SEC Championship game. The loss knocked them to 8–4 coming into the bowl game.
Behind the rushing of Ricky Williams, who was declared the Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker award winner a few days before, Texas raced to a 14–3 lead by halftime. They would score 24 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter to rise to a 38–11 victory.