Mississippi State will not pull out of its bowl game against Illinois despite Mike Leach's death ... the school's interim AD just said the Bulldogs will play in the postseason contest -- because, "We all know that's what Coach Leach would want."

Bracky Brett, who took over MSU's AD reins in October, told ESPN on Tuesday the football team's players are "100%" ready to play in the ReliaQuest Bowl on Jan. 2 ... and do "what Coach Leach would expect them to do."

"It's what we should do," Brett added.

Leach, MSU's head coach since 2020, tragically passed away on Monday night after suffering a medical emergency on Sunday. He was 61 years old.