STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State will be playing to keep the Golden Egg in Starkville when they travel to Oxford Saturday to take on Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CT and will be televised by ESPNU.
The 25th-ranked Bulldogs are 7-4 this season but have dropped their last two games to Alabama and Arkansas. Against the Razorbacks, several Bulldogs had career-best performances. Quarterback Chris Relf was 20-30 for 224 yards passing while rushing for 103 yards on 31 carries.
Vick Ballard, who is State's leading rusher this season with 849 rushing yards, rushed for a season-best 150 yards last week on 33 carries while scoring three touchdowns. Ballard has scored at least one touchdown in eight of his 10 games played this season. With 15 rushing scores on the season, Ballard needs just one rushing touchdown to tie Jackie Parker's 58 year old school record for rushing touchdowns in a single season.
Defensively, the Bulldogs are led by senior linebackers Chris White and K.J. Wright. White is currently tied for fourth in the SEC with 96 total tackles and fourth in the conference with 14.0 tackles for loss. Wright has totaled 84 tackles, including 5.0 for loss.
As a team, Mississippi State continues to run the ball well and play solid defense. The Bulldog ground attack is accounting for 216.3 yards a game which ranks third in the SEC. Defensively, State has allowed just 25 touchdowns this season and is giving up just 20.1 points a game which also ranks third in the league. Mississippi State ranks third in the league in 3rd-down conversions (37.3 percent), first in time of possession (31:11), third in turnover margin (+7) and third in red zone defense (75.8 percent).
Ole Miss (4-7, 1-6 SEC) enters Saturday's game having dropped five of its last six games. The Rebels are led on the ground by Brandon Bolden who has rushed for 931 yards on 151 carries and 13 touchdowns this season. A dual-threat quarterback, Jeremiah Masoli has rushed for 532 yards this season while throwing for 1778. He has accounted for 19 touchdowns this season.
Saturday's meeting between the in-state rivals is the 107th dating back to 1901. Last season in Starkville, the Bulldogs used a strong second half to down Ole Miss 41-27 for its third win in the last five meetings. The home team has won each game dating back to 2003.