Colter completed 9-of-15 passes for 76 yards with a pair of interceptions and also carried the ball 12 times for 75 more on the ground as the Wildcats (10-3) logged their first bowl win since the 1949 Rose Bowl.
Venrick Mark, Trevor Siemian and Tyris Jones each ran for a touchdown as Northwestern finally emerged victorious after dropping nine consecutive post-season games.
Dan Vitale led the Wildcats' receiving corps with seven catches for 82 yards and Trevor Siemian completed 12-of-21 passes for 120 yards behind center in Northwestern's win.
The Bulldogs (8-5) struggled as Tyler Russell was limited to 12-of-28 through the air for 106 yards with four interceptions.
Mississippi State closed its season with five losses in six games.
Kim Kardashian, Kanye West reportedly set wedding date
Aaron Carter is still in love with Hilary Duff