MSU-USM Preview

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

It’s been 24 years since in-state foes Mississippi State and Southern Miss met on the football field. The rivalry renews at 6:39 p.m. CT Saturday in front of a sellout crowd as the Bulldogs celebrate the grand opening of the renovation and expansion of Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.

The contest will be the first live SEC Network Saturday primetime telecast with Dave Neal, Andre Ware and Laura Rutledge calling the action. It can also be accessed by subscribers of the SEC Network on or the Watch ESPN app via mobile devices.

The MSU Radio Network C Spire Tailgate Show goes live at 4:30 p.m. Jim Ellis, Matt Wyatt and John Correro will broadcast the game live to MSU Radio Network affiliates. Members of HailStatePLUS can listen to live streaming audio at

All fans are encouraged to wear white for the “White Out” game. The new north end zone ticket office opens at 3:30 p.m. and there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening. All gates of Davis Wade Stadium open at 4:30 p.m.

Follow live in-game updates and engage with other fans via MSU football social media: @HailStateFBall (on Twitter), (Facebook) and (Instagram).

After a productive August training camp, MSU makes its much anticipated 2014 debut before what is expected to be the largest crowd in Davis Wade Stadium history after the net addition of 6,255 seats to lift capacity to 61,337. It’s the first meeting between the two schools since Sept. 22, 1990 when MSU edged the Golden Eagles, 13-10.

“We are fired up to get this season going,” said head coach Dan Mullen, who begins his sixth season at the helm. “Guys have been working since last January and this is the reward for all of that hard work. We look at what’s good for our university and for the state of Mississippi. There is a buzz around the state and all of the excitement that the fans have is a great thing. To schedule in-state rivals does so much for the state of Mississippi. I am glad we are a part of it.”

Mullen has compiled a 36-28 record in his five previous seasons and has guided MSU to an unprecedented four consecutive bowl games. He stands just one victory shy of a tie for third place in MSU all-time wins.

The Bulldogs return 30 players who started at least one game last season and have depth on both sides of the ball. Junior quarterback Dak Prescott, a Maxwell Award candidate, is MSU’s leading returning passer and rusher after racking up 1,940 and 829 yards, respectively a year ago. Senior receiver Jameon Lewis leads a wideout group that returns Prescott’s top three targets. With 923 yards on 64 receptions, Lewis is the Southeastern Conference’s leading returning receiver.

Junior running back Josh Robinson is expected to get the bulk of the carries. Robinson rushed for 459 yards and three scores in 2013. Defensively, Geoff Collins’ unit is one the SEC’s elite. Junior Benardrick McKinney, a national defensive player of the year candidate, accumulated a team-best 71 total tackles and seven tackles for losses a season ago.

Southern Miss went 1-11 in 2013 but the Golden Eagles return their top receiver in senior Markese Triplett (33 rec., 558 yards). As a whole, USM brings back 57.4 percent of its total offense from a year ago.

USM leads the all-time series 14-12-1, but MSU owns an 8-6-1 mark in Starkville and has claimed the last two in the series. The Bulldogs bring a three-game winning streak into the year and have won 11 straight home non-conference games.

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