The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (4-2, 2-1) will travel to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-2, 1-2) in a non-conference matchup Saturday afternoon. Mississippi State has won three of the last five matchups, including a 26-20 overtime win at home on September 24, 2011 in the most recent meeting. Louisiana Tech covered the line in the contest as a 19.5 point underdog.
Louisiana Tech won their third straight game as they beat UTSA on the road, 34-31, last week in Conference USA action. Mississippi State bounced back from a road loss to Texas A&M by pulverizing Troy 45-17 at home. This game is scheduled to kick off at 12:00 pm ET from Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi and will be televised on the SEC Network. Mississippi State is currently a 13.5 point favorite in the contest with the over/under set at 60 points.
Louisiana Tech blew a 24-10 halftime advantage and had to get a 32 yard field goal from Jonathan Barnes with 10 seconds to play to get the win. Both teams turned the ball over twice; Louisiana Tech scored on a pick six and had another possession that began at the UTSA 8 that ended up in a field goal. The two Bulldogs turnovers led to drive starts for the Roadrunners at the Louisiana Tech 8 and 15 yard lines; UTSA ended up with 10 points in those drives. Louisiana Tech outgained UTSA 444-300 in the game and won the time of possession battle 35:41 to 24:19.
The Bulldogs have a terrific offensive unit as they are 16th (319.7 yards) in passing offense and 67th (174 yards per game) in rushing offense this season. Louisiana Tech is tied for 32nd in scoring offense as they average 39 points per game though they are only tied for 69th in scoring defense by allowing 26.2 points per game. Former Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has connected on 136 of 223 passes for 1,812 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions while ranking second on the team with 211 yards and five scores. Kenneth Dixon is the top ground gainer for Louisiana Tech as he has run the ball 95 times for 583 yards with six scores; if he needs a breather, Jarred Craft (34 carries, 144 yards, TD) is next in line. Seven players have double digit receptions for Louisiana Tech this season; Trent Taylor is far and away the leading receiver with 49 grabs for 634 yards and four scores while no other Bulldogs player has more than 17 receptions. Barnes has hit all 28 extra points and 13 of 15 field goal attempts on the year.
Mississippi State put this one away early as they led Troy 21-0 after one quarter and 38-0 at the half before taking their foot off the gas in the second half. The Rebels outgained the Trojans 336-254 in the game and forced the two turnovers in the contest. Mississippi State scored on a strip sack for a score and ran a punt back for a touchdown in the contest. The Rebels had the game locked up pretty much in the first two minutes as they led 14-0 1:44 into the contest with a quick offensive score and the strip sack TD.
The Rebels are 28th (272.5 yards) in passing offense but their run game (91st in the nation at 150 yards per game) could use some work; Mississippi State is averaging 32 points per game while limiting opponents to 17.7 points per game, which is 24th in the nation. Dak Prescott has connected on 118 of 182 passes for 1,353 yards with eight touchdowns and no picks while leading the team with 220 yards plus three scores on the ground. Ashton Shumpert (42 carries, 159 yards, TD) and Brandon Holloway (28 carries, 146 yards) are the top two running backs though neither has seen much work this year. Fred Ross leads the team with 35 receptions for 386 yards and a score; De’Runnya Wilson has 22 grabs for 348 yards and three scores while three other players have at least 11 receptions. Westin Graves has kicked all 21 extra points and seven of seven field goals on the year with a long of 44 yards.
Mississippi State is 15-3 ATS in their last 18 at home against teams with a winning road record, 5-1 ATS in their last six after allowing less than 170 yards through the air and 9-4 ATS in their last 13 at home.
Mississippi State plays very well at home and will have to deal with a Louisiana Tech team that has the ability to score points and move the ball up and down the field. The problem for Louisiana Tech is that they tend to struggle against decent offenses and that could hurt them in this contest. They may hang around for a half or so but Mississippi State should be able to put them away in the second half to pull away for a win.