No. 23 State Returns Home To Meet South Alabama For First Time
STARKVILLE, Miss. - After pulling out a tough win at Troy, the No. 23 Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 SEC) return home to the friendly confines of Davis Wade Stadium to face the South Alabama Jaguars (1-2) Saturday night.
Saturday night's Pay-Per-View broadcast is set to begin at 6 p.m. The action will also be carried on the Mississippi State Radio Network, along with XM Radio (Channel 191) and Sirius Radio (Channel 94).
South Alabama will be faced with the task of defending a potent Bulldog offense and trying to keep the ball away from a defense that is tied with Alabama in turnover margin (+11) and forced turnovers (12).
Defensively, the Bulldogs showed some struggles against Troy last Saturday, but still continued to impress in the turnover game. Defensive back Darius Slay picked off two passes and forced a fumble against the Trojans, leading the Maroon and White to four forced turnovers in the game.
Opposite of Slay stands All-American Johnthan Banks, who continues to have a stellar senior season. Although Maben, Miss., native wasn't credited with a turnover at Troy, Slay's two picks came off corner blitzes from Banks, showing the senior's impact on every defensive play.
On the other side of the ball, Head Coach Dan Mullen will bring out an offense that is as potent as ever, both through the air and on the ground. Junior quarterback Tyler Russell, along with Heisman favorite Geno Smith of West Virginia, are the only two quarterbacks in the nation with a passing efficiency rating of at least 160.0 with eight or more passing touchdowns and no interceptions. On the ground, junior LaDarius Perkins leads the Bulldogs and is second in the SEC with a 106.7 yards per game average. Since the 2009 campaign, MSU's powerful ground attack has eclipsed the 200-yard mark 23 times in 41 games, including twice already this season.
For the Jaguars, Head Coach Joey Jones will lean heavily on his defense to slow the Bulldogs' efficient offense. Senior linebacker Jake Johnson posted a season-high 14 total tackles last week, including a school-record 11 unassisted stops. Teaming up with Johnson will be junior Alex Page, who is coming off a career game against N.C. State that included five total tackles and a pair of sacks.
Saturday's matchup will mark the first time South Alabama has faced an SEC team as well as a ranked team. The Jaguar football program is only in its fourth year of existence.
Following Saturday's contest, State will have a week off before returning to SEC play on the road in Lexington, Ky., to take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Kickoff time and broadcast is to be announced.
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