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Southern Miss (0-0) at Mississippi State (0-0)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, August 30, 7:30 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Davis Wade Stadium (55,082) -- Starkville, Mississippi. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: USM 0-0, MSU 0-0. Away Record: USM 0-0, MSU 0-0. Neutral Record: USM 0-0, MSU 0-0. Conference Record: USM 0-0, MSU 0-0. Series Record: Southern Miss leads, 14-12-1.

GAME NOTES: Magnolia State rivals kick off the 2014 season against each other on Saturday night, as the Mississippi State Bulldogs play host to the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

Southern Miss head coach Todd Monken certainly has a lot he needs to show in his second year in charge. Monken did improve upon the Golden Eagles' win total in the year before he was hired, but going from 0-12 to 1-11 isn't exactly deserving of much praise.

For Mississippi State, its recent fortunes have not been so dire, but in the ultra-competitive SEC, the Bulldogs have not really been able claw their way out of the middle of the pack. Last season they finished at 7-6 and went to their fourth straight bowl game. However, they went just 3-3 in conference, with those wins coming by slim margins against Kentucky (28-22), Arkansas (24-17 in OT) and Ole Miss (17-10 in OT).

This is the first meeting in 24 years between these two programs. The last one came during the 1990 season when Southern Miss squeezed out a 13-10 triumph in Starkville. The Golden Eagles hold a 14-12-1 edge in the all-time series.

It should come as no surprise that the Golden Eagles really struggled to find much of a rhythm on offense last year. They only posted 17.1 ppg and mustered up just 315.5 yards on average each week. They are set up to improve this season with eight starters returning on that side of the ball.

Chief among the returning starters is Nick Mullens, who played in nine games at quarterback (six starts). Mullens showed some flashes, especially when he threw for 370 yards and five scores in the season finale against UAB. However, he completed just 49.3 percent of his pass attempts and had more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (13) overall. Part of the problem was a lack of protection, as he was sacked 25 times, including the seven he took against Middle Tennessee.

Jalen Richard will be the club's primary running back. He started eight games last season, but only managed to accumulate 324 yards on 85 carries. He also failed to score a touchdown on the ground. He will have more chances to up his production this season with Kendrick Hardy (417 yards, two TDs) gone.

Receiver Markese Triplett (33 receptions, 558 yards, four TDs) is back, and that is a major development. Triplett was second on the team in receptions, but was the only player with more than 500 receiving yards. His four scores also led the team. Tyre'oune Holmes (53 receptions, 410 yards, two TDs) has reliable hands, but he only averaged 7.7 yards per reception.

One area that Southern Miss did show some strength in last season was in defending the pass. The Golden Eagles were actually 25th in the country in pass defense (210.9 ypg). However, it didn't make a difference as the team still gave up far too many points (41.9 ppg).

The top returning tackler is linebacker Terrick Wright, who was one of two players to have 90 or more stops last season. Kalan Reed (41 tackles) and Ed Wilkins (39 tackles) are solid corners, as each came up with an interception.

For Mississippi State, the offense begins and ends with Dak Prescott. The junior quarterback is on the precipice of stardom after a solid finish to last season. Prescott still needs to improve as a passer, but he is a lethal weapon when he tucks the ball and makes a run for it. He rushed for a team-leading 829 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He also added 1,940 yards and 10 scores on 58.4 percent passing.

Josh Robinson (459 yards, three TDs) should be the focus of more traditional running plays. He saw time in all 13 games last season.

Prescott will have a few familiar faces to work with in the passing game, which should help him as he takes on the full-time job. Jameon Lewis (64 receptions, 923 yards, five TDs) is simply a fantastic athlete, who also added in 117 yards and three scores on the ground. Robert Johnson (34 receptions, 389 yards) and tight end Malcolm Johnson (30 receptions, 391 yards two TDs) fit in nicely as secondary threats.

As is the case with most teams in the SEC, Mississippi State is an extremely stout defensive squad. The Bulldogs ranked 18th in the country in total defense (349.3 ypg) last season. However, they sat in the bottom half of the conference in red zone defense, allowing 31 touchdowns in 48 chances.

The strength of the unit is in the secondary where corners Taveze Calhoun (45 tackles, three INTS) and Jamerson Love (27 tackles, three INTs) have proven themselves to be opportunistic playmakers.

Mississippi State can be a dark horse in the SEC, if Prescott lives up to the hype and the defense remains effective. This bout should serve as a nice appetizer for the rest of the schedule.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Mississippi State 43, Southern Miss 9

08/29 15:15:24 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UNC 82
OSU 74
Final
MVSU 60
NCCU 94
 
2nd
UNCW 59
ECU 50
 
2nd Intermission
CAR 1
NYR 0
 
4th
CHA 88
UTA 74
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
Final
NYK 90
PHO 99
4th
NOP 70
POR 94
 
4th
CHA 88
UTA 74
 
2nd
HOU 31
ATL 43
 
1st
DAL 15
SAN 15
 
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
IND
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
MIL
Final
LALAF 16
NEV 3
Final
UTEP 6
UTST 21
Final
COLST 10
UTAH 45
4th
AFA 31
WMICH 17
 
9:15pm Tonight
BGU
SALABAMA
Final
GEOR 81
CHAR 78
Final
WKENT 67
LOU 76
Final
MICH 51
SMU 62
Final
CIN 47
VCU 68
Final
BSU 77
ABCHRIST 33
 
Final
PROV 85
UMASS 65
Final
AMER 46
MNTER 45
 
Final
UNC 82
OSU 74
Final
IUPUI 71
SALA 65
 
Final
VILL 82
SYR 77
Final
VT 64
CITA 61
Final
DUQ 79
MLOWELL 63
 
Final
FAIR 61
BEL 73
 
Final
YALE 60
GTDNS 64
 
Final
FD 76
DEL 74
 
Final
PSU 73
DREX 68
Final
UNCG 64
ELON 71
 
Final
ILL 62
MIZZ 59
Final
CAMP 90
MONT 64
 
Final
LONG 106
PSUBEAVER 74
 
Final
HOU 63
SCST 71
 
Final
FSU 75
SFLA 62
Final
BING 51
BONA 69
 
Final
RUTG 68
RFLSH 73
 
Final
MCNST 69
TOL 83
 
Final
JVU 84
TRUETT 55
 
Final
GT 65
VANDY 60
Final
INDST 56
EILL 60
 
Final
BUT 73
IND 82
Final
STEPH 94
ARTCH 57
 
Final
OREG 83
DELST 70
 
Final
Terriers 61
FATL 56
 
Final
TXARL 89
HPYN 50
 
Final
KU 96
LAF 69
Final
ARKST 67
MARS 58
Final
MEM 78
ORU 63
Final
KNST 53
UMBC 66
 
Final
NW 67
WMICH 61
Final
MIZST 65
EMICH 77
 
Final
CHIST 77
STJOE 54
 
Final
KENT 83
UCLA 44
Final
COC 68
DAVID 80
Final
RIU 69
DET 55
Final
UCR 78
HOUB 67
 
Final
MURST 89
ILLST 77
 
Final
NWST 89
LALAF 85
 
Final
WAGN 66
MON 74
 
Final
MVSU 60
NCCU 94
 
Final
PITT 81
OU 77
Final
TENNM 77
PBY 60
 
Final
WYO 57
SOUTH 39
 
Final
AFA 75
UCD 81
Final
MSST 51
USCU 53
 
Final
JMU 71
HIGH 80
 
Final
TXST 90
HTILL 56
 
Final
DRAK 54
ISU 83
Final
SHU 73
UNH 60
 
Final
SCU 72
NE 78
 
Final
MSU 64
TXSOU 71
Final
UF 63
WAKE 50
Final
ND 94
PURD 63
Final
SHSU 61
PVU 44
 
Final
AUB 89
XAV 88
 
2nd
AKR 92
BLUFFTON 53
 
2nd
DAY 64
BU 55
 
2nd
UNCW 59
ECU 50
 
2nd
CLMB 75
HOF 71
 
2nd
GMAS 70
IONA 62
 
2nd
TOWS 43
LAS 58
 
2nd
MAN 70
MRGST 68
 
2nd
CCST 74
YALE 83
 
2nd
PEPP 54
RICH 60
 
Final
MAR 58
STJOE 75
 
2nd
KYST 63
TEXAM 56
 
Final
MAST 72
VALPO 75
 
2nd
UMKC 63
INCWORD 62
 
2nd
IDST 45
CALST 48
 
2nd
NIOWA 39
IOWA 32
 
2nd
SIUE 31
UWMIL 35
 
1st
TEX 37
LBSU 29
 
Half
TCU 43
TXSA 26
 
1st
ARK 18
SEMIZ 10
 
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
JVST
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARST
LEH
 
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
NMU
 
9:00pm Tonight
WASH
OKLA
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
STED
 
9:00pm Tonight
WEBER
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
BST
10:00pm Tonight
GONZ
CPSL
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
FRES
10:00pm Tonight
PORT
MNTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSNO
TAMCC
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
SDKST
 
11:00pm Tonight
BYU
STAN
11:30pm Tonight
UNLV
UTAH
Final
LOS 4
ARI 2
2nd Intermission
CLB 1
CHI 1
 
2nd Intermission
BUF 0
COL 2
 
2nd
PIT 2
FLA 1
 
2nd Intermission
CAR 1
NYR 0
 
2nd Intermission
MON 2
OTT 1
 
2nd Intermission
TOR 3
PHI 5
 
2nd Intermission
NYI 0
TAM 0
 
2nd Intermission
NJD 0
WAS 2
 
1st Intermission
MIN 2
NAS 3
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
STL
Final
WAS 27
PHI 24
1st
SFX 7
SDC 0