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No. 21 Northwestern looks to end 9-game bowl slide, Mississippi State eyes 6th straight win

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    Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald shout at his team during NCAA college football practice, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Wildcats take on the Mississippi State in the gator Bowl on New Year's Day. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Self) (The Associated Press)

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    Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian throws a pass during NCAA college football practice, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Wildcats take on the Mississippi State in the gator Bowl on New Year's Day. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Self) (The Associated Press)

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    Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen stretches with his players during NCAA college football practice for the New Year's Day Gator Bowl game against Northwestern, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Self) (The Associated Press)

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    Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks (13) warms up with teammates during NCAA college football practice for the New Year's Day Gator Bowl game against Northwestern, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Self) (The Associated Press)

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    Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter throws a pass during NCAA college football practice, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Wildcats take on the Mississippi State in the gator Bowl on New Year's Day. (AP Photo/The Florida Times-Union, Bob Self) (The Associated Press)

Just getting to a bowl game no longer matters to Northwestern.

The 21st-ranked Wildcats want to win one and end a decades-long losing streak.

Northwestern (9-3) hasn't won a bowl since beating Cal in the 1949 Rose Bowl. The Wildcats have dropped nine in a row since, matching the longest streak in NCAA history.

They get a chance to avoid extending the mark Tuesday against Mississippi State (8-4) in the Gator Bowl.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald says winning a bowl game is "the next step in where we want to go as a program."

Northwestern has come close the last four years, losing twice in overtime and once by a touchdown.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, have won five consecutive bowls — the longest current streak in the country.