KEYS TO VICTORY
Mississippi State fell behind 21-0 just over six minutes into its last game against Auburn and hadn’t even had a first down yet. The Bulldogs cannot afford to play from behind because it essentially takes away their biggest offensive weapon, running the ball with Kylin Hill.
Abandon all hope
Tennessee is trying to gain its footing after several treacherous seasons but hasen’t had any luck thus far this year. MSU needs to establish itself early and not allow the Volunteers to gain any confidence in front of a hopeful home crowd.
The Bulldogs’ defense has the nation’s longest takeaway streak, currently at 21 games. Over that span, State has created 41 turnovers and the Vols have averaged two giveaways per game this year.
WHAT TO WATCH
When MSU has the ball
The Bulldogs are averaging 398 yards and 30.2 points per game this season and have the SEC’s leading rusher in Hill, who is chewing up 119.2 yards a game. Coach Joe Moorhead hasn’t named a starting quarterback for today but stated that both Tommy Stevens and Garrett Shrader would play, possibly at the same time.
Tennessee ranks 13th in the SEC games giving up 483.5 yards and 38.5 points against conference opponents. The Volunteers only have eight sacks all season and just two in league play.
When Tennessee has the ball
True freshman Brian Maurer is making his second career start at quarterback today. Jauan Jennings (seven catches, 114 yards) and Marquez Callaway (three catches, 105 yards) each eclipsed 100 yards receiving against Georgia last week and both scored a touchdown.
State’s defense has racked up 14 turnovers in just five games but are allowing 401.4 yards per game. The Bulldogs may get a boost with Lee Autry, Willie Gay Jr. and Marcus Murphy back on the field from suspensions this week.
Tennessee’s tackles vs. MSU edge rush
Wanya Morris and Darnell Wright are two true freshmen starting at offensive tackle for the Vols.
Mississippi State hasn’t been able to generate much of a pass rush this season but defensive coordinator Bob Shoop needs dial up as many blitzes off the edge as he can to try and take advantage of Tennessee’s inexperience on the edge. Nickelback Brian Cole II is the only Bulldog with multiple sacks this season.