KEYS TO VICTORY
Work on passing
Mississippi State’s passing game struggled last week, totaling just 82 yards through the air. The Bulldogs need to take advantage of their opportunity to improve that aspect of their offense to avoid being so one-dimensional in next week’s Egg Bowl.
The last thing MSU needs is another injury to add to an incredibly long list, especially on defense. The Bulldogs need to get their key players off the field as quickly as possible to start resting up for a short week.
Get youngsters involved
State should try to put this one away as early as possible to not only avoid injuries but to also get some snaps for those players further down the depth chart. The Bulldogs have not had many chances to get those players extended game day reps and today should provide that opportunity.
WHAT TO WATCH
When MSU has the ball
Running back Kylin Hill and wide receiver Deddrick Thomas both left the Alabama game with injuries last week but returned to practice. It will be interesting to see how much either player sees the field today, if at all.
Abilene Christian may have lost back-to-back games but its defense features a pair of defensive ends with eight sacks apiece and a middle linebacker with 19.5 tackles for loss. The Wildcats have 35 sacks as a team to go along with 23 takeaways.
When Abilene Christian has the ball
Abilene Christian is averaging 424.5 yards and 29.9 points per game and produced 456 yards and scored 31 points at North Texas to open the season in its other FBS game. Running back Tracy James has totaled 19 touchdowns while wide receivers Kobe Clark and Josh Fink have combined for 139 catches for 1,543 yards and eight scores.
Mississippi State is surrendering 401.3 yards and 31 points per game on average. Defensive starters Lee Autry (DT), Willie Gay Jr. (LB) and Marcus Murphy (S) are expected to be suspended again today.
MSU vs. itself
The Bulldogs should be able to dominate today’s game against a lower-tiered FCS opponent. Tonight’s game needs to be about building confidence for State heading into a must-win, regular- season finale against Ole Miss.
However, the Bulldogs will likely have to rely on something other than the crowd for motivation with a small turnout expected at Davis Wade Stadium for homecoming.