Bulldog Egg Bowl Game Notes

Bulldog Egg Bowl Game Notes

The Game: Mississippi State (8-3, 4-3 SEC) wraps up this regular season with the annual Battle for the Golden Egg, this year hosted by Ole Miss (5-6, 2-5). Gametime is 6:00 for ESPNU telecast. The MSU Network pregame broadcast begins at 4:00.

*Mississippi State is playing for a fourth-consecutive victory in the rivalry, which has not been achieved by Bulldog teams since 1939-42. The current three-win streak is also the longest since that era.

*This means most of the current seniors can become the first Bulldogs in seven decades to complete playing-careers unbeaten in the rivalry. That includes seven members of Coach Dan Mullen's first signing class who are seniors this year. Six more from that 2009 class are juniors this year.

*TE Marcus Green is playing in just his third Egg Bowl but has been involved varyingly in three others, as a 2007 redshirt and in 2008 and '10 while injured. Only four Mississippi State head coaches have worked more than five games against Ole Miss.

*State won in its last visit to Oxford, 31-23 in 2010. It was the first road win by Bulldogs in the series since 1998.

*Bulldog teams have won four of the last five meetings and five of the last seven.

*Mullen can match Allyn McKeen for best start in the rivalry, as McKeen coached that 1939-42 streak.

*At 29-20 Mullen now is tied for fourth-most victories by a Bulldog coach.

*Critiques of Mullen's record against Western Division foes have been muted. Or mooted. Along with three-straight wins over Ole Miss, he now has beaten Auburn and Arkansas this season.

*Mississippi State is not ranked in the AP poll for a second week, but are listed #24 in the coaches poll after a week's absence. This team reached as high as #13 AP at a 7-0 record, the highest ranking of a Mullen team to date.

*State's last loss to an unranked opponent was at Georgia in October 2011. In fact that is the only loss to a non-ranked team in three seasons now.

*Guaranteed of a bowl berth, the Bulldogs are playing for the best holiday address available. A victory to cap the regular season keeps State in the running for the Chick-fil-A Bowl (December 31, 6:30 vs ACC). The other option is a return to the Gator Bowl (January 1, 11:00am vs Big Ten). State is already accepting advance orders from fans for bowl tickets.

Bulldog Notebook: Mississippi State punt coverage continues to be the NCAA's best, with minus-1 yards allowed on eleven attempts.

*P Baker Swedenburg has punted 46 times with just 11 of these returned and 25 kicks fair-caught.

*The Bulldogs lost their NCAA lead in turnover ratio in early November and dropped low as 8th. Now State is back up to #4 nationally, having gained 27 turnovers and lost the ball 11 times.

*After going three weeks without an interception the Bulldogs picked a pair of Arkansas passes. They now are tied for 20th nationally with 14 interceptions. But only five defenses in the country have returned for more yards than State's 322, with two touchdowns.

*CB Darius Slay has taken the team's interception lead with five this year, which ties him for 9th in the NCAA stats. CB Johnthan Banks (4 picks) is now tied with 23 other players for #19 this week.

*Banks has been standing on 16 career interceptions since October 20, looking for the 17th pick that will make him the all-time record holder.

*Banks has three two-interception games in his career, one this season (Auburn).

*Banks just surpassed the 200-tackles standard, with 214 through his 49 games.

*Banks and SS/CB Corey Broomfield do remain tied with three career touchdown returns, one ahead of Slay.

*And Broomfield is tied for 7th himself in the career-picks list, with ten.

*Slay had gone seven games without an interception after notching four in the first three contests; then came away with one on Senior Day.

*Slay has six career picks, two returned for touchdowns (Georgia 2011, Jackson State 2012).

*FS Nickoe Whitley has eight career interceptions of his own. Thus the current starting State secondary quartet has 40 picks between them.

*And last week sub-CB Jamerson Love got his own first career interception.

*With two games left this defense has a shot at the season record of 22 interceptions set in 1994.

*LB Cameron Lawrence has pushed his lead in team tackling out farther, over LB Benardrick McKinney. They are at 98 and 87 stops respectively.

*Senior Lawrence is on the verge of his second 100-tackle season after making 123 last year. And he has notched double-digit tackles in the last five games, and in eight out of 11 games this year. He had six games with ten or more tackles as a junior.

*His four sacks this season top the three totaled in Lawrence's first three years.

*Last year Lawrence had 14 tackles in the win over Ole Miss, making up for missing the 2010 game with injury.

*McKinney ranks first among SEC freshmen in tackles and 8th overall in the league.

*The Dog defense comes in only 88th in NCAA sacks this week. But the offense has allowed just 13 sacks in ten games, in the national top-20.

*Senior DT Josh Boyd has blocked two field goals in his career, one against Texas A&M this season.

*Junior DE Denico Autry is tied with Lawrence at four sacks.

*But both trail backup DE Preston Smith's 4.5 sacks.

*The Bulldog offense is averaging 13.7 plays each Division I game of ten or more yards. The high is 20, against both Tennessee and Arkansas; the low nine against Texas A&M.

*In their eight wins the Bulldogs have rushed (scrambles and sacks included) 54% of plays. In the three losses, all league games, it was 60% passes.

*In their four SEC wins the plays break down as 52% rushes.

*In his first year as full-time starter, QB Tyler Russell is obliterating program passing records. Through ten games he has already set standards for yardage, for completions and percentage both, and of course touchdowns. He has thrown 21 scoring passes this year, five more than Derrick Taite did in eleven games in 1995.

*His seven 200-yard passing games are also a season record.

*In the eight wins Russell is 141-of-235 passing, or 60% even, with one interception and 19 touchdowns. In the three losses Russell was 60-of-98, or 61%, but with three picks and two touchdowns.

*He currently owns the most-accurate season by a Bulldog quarterback at 60.4%. Interestingly he's just ahead of two former teammates in second (Chris Relf) and third (Tyson Lee) places.

*Having dove for two other touchdowns, Russell suddenly is one more score from matching a record once thought uncatchable. It is Jackie Parker's mark of 24 touchdowns responsible-for set in 1952 (!).

*In SEC games, Russell's completed passes average 11.9 yards; while the non-SEC rate is 14.1 yards.

*In 29 career games, 15 of them starts, Russell has thrown 34 touchdowns. That leaves Russell just four short of Taite's record 38 set in 1993-96…and the current quarterback has two more games this year as well as an entire senior season.

*The chief beneficiary of Russell's right arm is WR Chad Bumphis. The senior has caught 19 balls worth 272 yards and four touchdowns in just the last three weeks.

*Bumphis has three 100-yard receiving games this season, as many as he posted in the previous three years.

*With a pair of touchdowns in his home-field finale, Bumphis has set the season record of ten; one more than Justin Jenkins had in 2003.

*His 49 receptions and 758 yards this season are both most by a Bulldog in Mullen's tenure.

*Bumphis already owns the most important career mark for a receiver. His 22 touchdowns are five better than the previous mark of 17 shared by Eric Moulds (3 years) and Jenkins.

*He also now stands #2 in catches at 150 for his 48 games. His 2,106 yards are third-best in MSU history.

*Bumphis has caught at least one ball in 47 college games, missing out only in 2010 against UAB. He has a 27-yard receiving streak going.

*Coming into the year Bumphis had caught two touchdowns against SEC defenses. He's scored six times in league play this year alone.

*RB LaDarius Perkins bounced-back from missing the LSU game with a muscle strain to rush for 91 yards against Arkansas. That gives the junior 895 yards on the season and a reasonable shot at the 12th 1,000-yard year in MSU history. The previous eleven are shared by eight Bulldog backs.

*Trends are on Perkins' side as both his predecessors starting for Mullen netted over 1,000 yards a year under the coach.

*Perkins did not rush for a touchdown last week, the first Bulldog game won without the halfback toting the ball into an end zone. He had not scored in the three losses.

*But Perkins caught a pair of Russell passes for touchdowns against Arkansas. They were his first receiving scores of the season, after he had five total the previous two years.

*Perkins has made his presence known in two Egg Bowl battles. He has rushed for 162 yards and a touchdown backing up Vick Ballard; but caught six balls for 167 yards and three scores.

*While Russell re-writes the record book, his backup is making an impression too. QB Dak Prescott has rushed for four touchdowns, out of 29 carries this season; and thrown for three more on 22 completions.

*WR Chris Smith has caught two or more balls in 28 of 36 games these last three seasons.

*His 12.0-yard average each catch is a career best.

*In the second half of his senior season WR Arceto Clark has been Mr. Consistent, with two-to-five catches every contest.

*And in his last three games Clark has averaged 14 yards each catch. Yet Clark is still looking for the first touchdown of his last college year.

*WR Robert Johnson has worked his way into the rotation since October, with 11 catches the last five games and averaging 10 yards on each.

*After his torrid mid-year stretch TE Marcus Green has one catch in the last three games. But it went for a touchdown. Of his 18 grabs this year six have been scoring grabs, five of them in SEC games.

*Bulldog tight ends average 12.4 yards each reception.

*Junior OG Gabe Jackson will make his 38th consecutive start this week.

*PK Devon Bell has hit field goals of 47 and 39 yards the last two weeks to snap a mini-slump. He is now 11-of-17 for his freshman season.

*Five Bulldogs have played in all 49 games under Mullen: Banks, Boyd, Broomfield, FB Sylvester Hemphill, and WR Brandon Heavens. None have started every game. Banks has the most Mullen-era starts with 43.

*Five true freshmen have played: PK Bell, DT Nick James, DT Quay Evans, DE Ryan Brown, and CB Cedric Jiles (injured). Only three true freshmen played in both 2010 and '11.

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