When the curtain rose Saturday on college football in Mississippi for 2019, things looked a little different.

The year-older version of Mississippi State’s 2018 smothering defense gave up yards and points, but the Bulldogs’ offense produced almost 500 yards in a 38-28 win over Louisiana-Lafayette in New Orleans.

For Ole Miss, the Rebels’ defense, after three years of struggle, showed noteworthy improvement. But the offense struggled and the Rebels lost 15-10 at Memphis.

Things get a little more intense for both teams in Week 2.

The Bulldogs open at home against in-state rival Southern Miss, while the Rebels get an early start in SEC play at home against Arkansas.

MSU and USM will kick off at 2:30 at Davis-Wade Stadium on ESPNU.

The sun will set over Vaught- Hemingway Stadium after the Rebels and Razorbacks kick at 6:30 in an SEC Network telecast.

Seven MSU players were suspended against the Ragin’ Cajuns, but the Bulldogs got a successful debut from graduate transfer quarterback Tommy Stevens, who completed 20 of 30 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception.

Running back Kylin Hill narrowly missed a 200-yard game as he finished with 197 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.

The Bulldogs and Golden Eagles last played in Hattiesburg in 2015 with MSU winning 34-16. MSU has won the last four in the series. The last Southern Miss victory was a 38-21 decision in Jackson in 1988.

Southern Miss opened with a 38-10 win over Alcorn State.

The Ole Miss loss was its sixth-straight over the last two seasons. The Rebels haven’t won since defeating Arkansas 37-33 in Little Rock last October – their only SEC win last season.

The Ole Miss defense allowed 13 points against Memphis – the Tigers scored two on a late safety. Memphis averaged 42.9 points last season and returned playmakers at each of the skill positions.

Arkansas fought past FCS foe Portland State to win its opener 20-13 in Fayetteville. Portland State was in position for a game-winning drive on the final series but turned it over.

parrish.alford@journalinc.com

Twitter: @parrishalford

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