South Alabama-Mississippi State Preview Capsule

BY foxsports • September 20, 2012

No. 23 Mississippi State (3-0) vs. South Alabama (1-2), 6 p.m. (PPV)

Line: Mississippi State by 34.

Series record: First meeting.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Mississippi State is trying to continue its best start to a season since 1999. The Bulldogs have won 13 straight nonconference games. South Alabama is in just its fourth season of football and this will be its first time facing a ranked opponent.

KEY MATCHUP

Mississippi State's defense vs. South Alabama. Mississippi State had a surprisingly bad defensive game against Troy last weekend, but the unit has been one of the SEC's best the past few seasons. The Bulldogs will be going against a South Alabama offense that scored just seven points in a loss to North Carolina State last week.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Mississippi State: RB LaDarius Perkins has stepped into a full-time starting role this season and performed very well. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior rushed for 179 yards and a touchdown last weekend against Troy and ranks second in the SEC with a 106.7 yards per game average.

South Alabama: LB Jake Johnson has been the Jaguars' most productive defensive player this season. He made 14 tackles against North Carolina State and leads the team with 30 for the season. He also has four tackles for a loss and a sack.

FACTS & FIGURES

Mississippi State has won its first four games just five times in school history and only once since 1965. ... Coach Dan Mullen has won 24 games in three-plus seasons with the Bulldogs, which already ranks fifth in school history. ... Mississippi State has forced 12 turnovers through three games this season while giving up just one. That plus-11 margin is tied for tops in the nation with Alabama. ... Mississippi State has been ranked for at least part of the past three seasons. ... This is the first time South Alabama has ever faced an opponent from the Southeastern Conference. ... Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning was the first offensive coordinator at South Alabama, hired as a member of the original coaching staff in 2008. ... South Alabama is a transitional member of the Football Bowl Subdivision this season. The Jaguars are playing a full FBS schedule, but are not eligible for the Sun Belt Championship. They will be eligible to play in the championship and a bowl game next season.


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