Mississippi State (2-0) at Troy (1-1)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 15, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Veterans Memorial Stadium (30,000) -- Troy, Alabama. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: MSU 2-0, Troy 0-1. Away Record: MSU 0-0, Troy 1-0. Neutral Record: MSU 0-0, Troy 0-0. Conference Record: MSU 2-0, Troy 0-1. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: For the first time in school history, the Troy Trojans will play host to an SEC opponent when they welcome the Mississippi State Bulldogs to Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
Mississippi State won its 12th straight game against a non-conference foe in its season opener, taking care of business against Jackson State, 56-9. It then kicked off its conference slate with a home game against Auburn last Saturday and behind an impressive all-around performance, the Bulldogs claimed a 28-10 win to move to 2-0. It marked the first time they've beaten Auburn since 2007, and it was their first win in an SEC opener since 1999.
Troy got its season off on the right foot with a 39-29 win at UAB. The Trojans returned home last week for the start of their Sun Belt Conference schedule against Louisiana, but despite a impressive night from their quarterback, they fell in a 37-24 final.
The all-time series between these two squads is knotted at one game apiece, with Mississippi State winning the last bout in 2002, 11-8.
MSU's overall offensive numbers may be skewed a bit due to its big performance over Jackson State (42 ppg, 391.5 ypg), but in scoring the final three touchdowns in the win over Auburn, the unit proved it can come through in the clutch as well.
Tyler Russell, the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week, has been one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the conference so far, completing 66 percent of his passes (35-of-53) for 407 yards and five touchdowns. He has also played mistake-free football with zero interceptions.
Although no Bulldog receiver has topped 100 yards on the season yet, five different players have recorded at least 50 yards. Chris Smith leads the team with seven receptions, and Marcus Green (three TDs) and Chad Bumphis (two TDs) have been key targets for Russell in the red zone.
LaDarius Perkins helped control the clock against Auburn and was a key to the victory with 14 carries, 83 yards and a touchdown, upping his season totals to 141 yards and three scores. Derrick Milton (14 carries, 95 yards, TD) also sees plenty of snaps in the backfield.
The defense for MSU has been nothing short of spectacular in the early going, allowing just 240.5 ypg and 9.5 ppg while holding its opponents to only 4- of-23 on third down.
The unit has a total of 12 tackles for loss, four sacks, three fumble recoveries, and five interceptions in two games. Johnathan Banks already has two interceptions to give him 14 for his career, the most among active FBS players.
Cameron Lawrence (13 tackles, sack), Matthew Wells (eight tackles, sack, interception, forced fumble) and Darius Slay (two interceptions) have also been high-impact players on defense.
The Troy offense has been explosive so far this season with 31.5 ppg and an incredible 520.5 total yards per tilt, and most of that success is thanks to its quarterback.
With a 46-of-70, 485-yard performance against Louisiana, Corey Robinson set a number of school records. In one night, he managed to break the program benchmarks for career total offense (7,591), passing yards (7,786), and passing attempts (1,103). The single-game completions and yardage numbers also set career-highs, and the 485 yards is the most passing yards in an NCAA game this season. Robinson has now thrown for 649 yards on .633 completion percentage, with four scores and a pick.
Robinson makes sure to involve plenty of his teammates, as Shawn Southward (11 catches, 65 yards) and Eric Thomas (10 catches, 59 yards, TD) work primarily to move the chains, while Chip Reeves (10 catches, 162 yards, TD) and Chandler Worthy (nine catches, 154 yards) have been used more down the field. Jaquon Robinson and B.J. Chitty each have six catches and a touchdown as well.
Southward also works as the Trojans' primary back, netting 237 yards on 44 caries with three touchdowns, although 204 of those yards came in opener.
As good as the offense has been for Troy, the defense has not held up its end of the bargain, surrendering an average of 33 ppg.
Brannon Bryan has a team-leading 19 tackles and De'Von Terry has the only interception. Marty Stadom and Tyler Roberts have each recorded a sack, but as a team the Trojans have a difficult time getting to the quarterback.
The atmosphere in Troy is sure to be electric as the school hosts one of the biggest games in its history. Robinson and his receivers have been dialed in so far, and they are sure to put up some numbers in this matchup, but they haven't faced a defense as strong as Mississippi State's yet. If the Bulldogs can continued to show great balance and opportunistic scoring, they should have no trouble moving to 3-0.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Mississippi State 38, Troy 21
09/12 10:42:54 ET