The Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-2) will play host to the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (4-2) in their final non-conference game this Saturday.
Mississippi State is coming off a convincing 45-17 home victory against Troy last Saturday. Bulldogs star quarterback Dak Prescott, who was battling a stomach ailment, only played the first three series of the game. The Bulldogs were able to put away the game early, thanks to touchdowns from both the defense and special teams in the first half.
“We had a great home victory last week,” said said Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen. “This is a pivotal part to the season for us… to see how our guys are developing and continue to take steps forward.”
Even though Mississippi State’s backup quarterback Nick Dylan Fitzgerald played well after taking over the offense at the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs will need a healthy Prescott to combat against a Louisiana Tech team that is averaging 39.5 points per game this season.
During the off season, quarterback Jeff Driskel transferred to Louisiana Tech after having a dismal 2014 with the Florida Gators. Driskel, a former top high school quarterback prospect, is statistically having one of his best seasons.
Through six games Driskel has completed 61 percent of his passes for a career-high 1,812 yards and 11 touchdown passes. Driskel has also rushed for 211 yards and a career-high five rushing touchdowns.
Mississippi State’s defense will need to find a way to slow down Driskel and the rest of Louisiana Tech’s offense. Mississippi State is in the top 50 in total defense (361 ypg) and scoring defense (17.7 ppg) and it is excellent on third down, allowing opposing offenses to convert only 30 percent of their attempts.
Mississippi State’s offense has been the staple for the program since Mullen took over the head coaching reigns in 2009. This season the Bulldogs are averaging 32.3 ppg and rank 50th in total offense.
Prescott is having one of his most efficient seasons at quarterback. Through six games Prescott has 1,573 yards of total offense, including 11 total touchdowns (eight passing, three rushing). He also has a career-high 64.8 completion percentage and zero interceptions.
Prescott has a chance to join an elite group this Saturday. Needing only one more touchdown pass, Prescott could soon join Johnny Manziel and Tim Tebow as the only quarterbacks in SEC history to throw 50 touchdowns and rush for 30 touchdowns during their collegiate career.
There is potential for a high scoring game in Starkville this Saturday. Mississippi State may want to avoid that, considering they are 0-2 this season when allowing their opponents to score more than 20 points.
For Mullen, this game will play a pivotal role in prepping his team for the rest of the season.
“This is our last non-conference game, so after this it’s all SEC games,” Mullen said. “We want to put ourselves in position. We’re here to compete in those games.”
Kickoff is slated for Saturday at 12:00 in Davis Wade Stadium on SEC Network.