College Football

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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
CAR 4
TAM 2
7:30pm Tonight
ND
DUKE
 
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
CHA
 
9:00pm Tonight
NCSU
CLEM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MEM
ECU
 
Final
IND 91
TOR 104
Final
DET 95
CLE 103
Final
MIA 102
MIL 109
Final
DAL 90
MEM 109
Final
GSW 111
CHI 113
Final
LAL 92
WAS 98
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
DET
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
SAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
BOS
 
8:00pm Tonight
ATL
BRK
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
DEN
 
8:00pm Tonight
NYK
OKC
 
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
CHA
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
LAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
PHO
WAS
 
Final
AKR 59
BST 47
 
Final
KSU 63
CMICH 53
 
Final
VCU 72
GWU 48
Final
TOL 70
UMO 65
 
Final
MICH 58
NEB 44
Final
BGU 56
NILL 46
 
Final
EMICH 76
OHIO 40
 
Final
VT 70
PITT 67
Final
LAS 53
STJOE 48
Final
TULA 55
TULSA 62
Final
UGA 70
VANDY 62
Final
KYST 59
WVU 65
Final
BUF 77
WMICH 71
 
Final
GEOR 53
XAV 66
Final
EVAN 89
INDST 78
 
Final
ORU 94
TABOR 53
 
Final
OKST 64
BAY 53
9:00pm Tuesday
PROV 0
DEP 0
 
Final
ALA 50
UF 52
9:00pm Tuesday
RUTG 0
MSU 0
 
Final
ARK 69
TENN 64
Final
AUB 61
TEXAM 71
Final
UTST 56
WYO 44
Final
SDST 58
FRES 47
Final
CALST 79
SDCHR 54
 
Final
NEV 62
UNLV 67
Final
BSU 82
COLST 78
7:00pm Tonight
VERM
GTDNS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NAVY
AMER
 
7:00pm Tonight
UMBC
BING
 
7:00pm Tonight
JMU
DEL
 
7:00pm Tonight
RICH
DUQ
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ELON
 
7:00pm Tonight
USB
HART
 
7:00pm Tonight
WMARY
HOF
 
7:00pm Tonight
COL
LAF
 
7:00pm Tonight
PSU
MINN
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAINE
UNH
 
7:00pm Tonight
DREX
NE
 
7:00pm Tonight
FORD
RIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
SFLA
SMU
 
7:00pm Tonight
MARQ
SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
LSU
SCAR
 
7:00pm Tonight
UCF
TEMPL
 
7:00pm Tonight
LONG
UNCA
 
7:00pm Tonight
FSU
WAKE
 
7:00pm Tonight
CCAR
WINT
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
WRST
 
7:30pm Tonight
ND
DUKE
 
7:30pm Tonight
GHND 0
HC 0
 
7:30pm Tonight
CSOU
RAD
 
7:30pm Tonight
OKLA
TTU
 
8:00pm Tonight
BRAD
DRAK
 
8:00pm Tonight
BUCK
LEH
 
8:00pm Tonight
WICHS
LOYC
 
8:00pm Tonight
ILLST
MIZST
 
8:00pm Tonight
PEAY
MORE
 
8:00pm Tonight
SDKST
NEOM
 
8:00pm Tonight
ARST
ORST
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
RICE
 
8:05pm Tonight
SILL
NIOWA
 
9:00pm Tonight
NCSU
CLEM
 
9:00pm Tonight
MEM
ECU
 
9:00pm Tonight
MIAMI
GT
 
9:00pm Tonight
PURD
IND
 
9:00pm Tonight
TCU
KU
 
9:00pm Tonight
BC
LOU
 
9:00pm Tonight
MISS
MSST
 
9:00pm Tonight
CREI
STJ
 
10:00pm Tonight
SJST
AFA
 
10:00pm Tonight
ARZ
OREG
 
11:00pm Tonight
WASH
STAN
 
Final
PHI 4
ARI 3
Final
NYI 4
NYR 1
Final
CLB 4
WAS 3
Final
PIT 5
WIN 3
Final
MON 3
DAL 2
Final
FLA 4
DET 5
Final
CAR 4
TAM 2
Final
NAS 4
COL 3
Final
CAL 4
BUF 1
Final
EDM 1
MIN 2
Final
VAN 0
ANA 4
7:30pm Tonight
NJD
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
WAS
PIT
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
CHI