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
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
Final
CLEM 61
NCSU 66
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
CHA
 
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
WAKE
 
Final
DET 15
BAL 2
 
Final
MIA 7
MIAFLA 1
 
Final
PHI 5
NYY 5
 
Final
BOS 2
NEASTERN 1
 
Final
TOR 7
PIT 8
 
Final
CIN 10
CLE 0
 
Final
OAK 9
SFG 4
 
Final
BOS 1
BOSTONCOLL 0
 
Final
ARI 4
ASU 0
 
1:05pm Today
BAL
DET
 
1:05pm Today
ATL
NYM
 
1:05pm Today
NYY
PHI
 
1:05pm Today
PIT
TOR
 
3:05pm Today
LOS
CWS
 
3:05pm Today
CLE
CIN
 
3:05pm Today
TEX
KAN
 
3:05pm Today
SFG
OAK
 
3:05pm Today
SEA
SDP
 
3:05pm Today
MIL
WMIL
 
3:10pm Today
COL
ARI
 
7:05pm Tonight
MIN
UMIN
 
Final
CLE 110
BOS 79
Final
CHA 104
LAL 103
Final
NYK 86
SAC 124
Final
ATL 104
HOU 96
Final
MEM 82
UTA 93
Final
CHI 97
WAS 92
Final
DEN 106
MIL 95
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHO
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
CHA
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
CLE
 
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
UTA
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
DEN
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
DET
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
LAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
MEM
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
PHI
 
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
SAC
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
MIL
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
POR
 
Final
UMO 70
AKR 63
 
Final
NAVY 56
ARMY 52
 
Final
BST 60
EMICH 67
 
Final
BUT 54
GEOR 60
Final
IND 63
IOWA 77
Final
FLGC 81
JVU 63
 
Final
USCU 90
KNST 54
 
Final
BGU 80
KSU 81
 
Final
NKENTUCKY 73
LIP 76
 
Final
HC 62
GHND 45
 
Final
RUTG 50
MD 60
Final
GT 49
UNC 81
Final
BUF 93
OHIO 66
 
Final
ALA 74
MISS 82
Final
DAY 75
RIU 59
Final
CMICH 85
TOL 77
 
Final
DET 77
YOUNG 67
Final
UNF 81
STET 67
 
Final
ABCHRIST 83
HOUB 71
 
Final
NDAK 78
NEOM 80
 
Final
NILL 65
WMICH 63
 
Final
ILLCH 60
WRST 57
Final
MIZZ 63
AUB 61
Final
UGA 64
KENT 72
Final
NW 82
MICH 78
Final
CLEM 61
NCSU 66
Final
UF 66
TEXAM 62
Final
KU 76
WVU 69
Final
CREI 72
VILL 76
12:00pm Today
PBY
LONG
 
2:00pm Today
GWEBB
CAMP
 
6:00pm Tonight
UNCA
LIB
 
6:00pm Tonight
PSU
OSU
 
7:00pm Tonight
USB
BING
 
7:00pm Tonight
FORD
DUQ
 
7:00pm Tonight
GMAS
GWU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNH
HART
 
7:00pm Tonight
STJOE
LAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
Terriers
LIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
GTDNS
MAINE
 
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
ND
 
7:00pm Tonight
SHU
PROV
 
7:00pm Tonight
BRY
SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
MORE
SEMIZ
 
7:00pm Tonight
MNTER
RFLSH
 
7:00pm Tonight
LSU
TENN
 
7:00pm Tonight
SFLA
UCF
 
7:00pm Tonight
VERM
UMBC
 
7:00pm Tonight
RMU
WAGN
 
7:30pm Tonight
UMASS
RICH
 
8:00pm Tonight
TULA
HOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
YALE
HOW
 
8:00pm Tonight
PITT
MIAMI
 
8:00pm Tonight
TXPA
NMST
 
8:00pm Tonight
MSU
PURD
 
8:00pm Tonight
STLU
BONA
 
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
WAKE
 
9:00pm Tonight
TULSA
CIN
 
9:00pm Tonight
VANDY
MSST
 
9:00pm Tonight
EILL
SIUE
 
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
STJ
 
9:00pm Tonight
OKST
TCU
 
9:00pm Tonight
UCLA
USC
 
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
UTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
FRES
AFA
 
10:00pm Tonight
SJST
BSU
 
10:00pm Tonight
NEV
COLST
 
10:00pm Tonight
ILL
NEB
 
11:00pm Tonight
ORST
OREG
 
11:00pm Tonight
UNLV
SDST
 
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
UCSB
 
Final
PHI 2
CAL 3
Final
NJD 3
NAS 1
Final
CLB 3
WAS 5
Final
TAM 3
BUF 0
Final
FLA 2
TOR 3
Final
MIN 3
OTT 2
Final
DAL 3
NYI 2
Final
ARI 1
ANA 4
Final
VAN 2
SJS 6
Final
EDM 2
LOS 5
7:30pm Tonight
WIN
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
DET
NYR
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
MON
 
10:00pm Tonight
COL
PIT