Before the season, the schedule looked favorable for the Bulldogs through the first seven games. So far, so good. A blowout win over Jackson State, big win over SEC foe Auburn who had long given the dogs trouble, and a close escape this past Saturday at Troy. So far, so good for Dan Mullen and company.
The Bulldogs have capitalized on many advantages this season. Last week, it wasn't necessarily a position advantage, but the advantage of experience. The dogs simply had been in more close games against better teams than Troy and responded with a victory after a nice comeback by Troy.
Troy is a tough team at home an had won the previous match up against MSU.
This week, there should be no scare. The dogs are taking on a far inferior opponent and they are playing at home. This week should be a week where State can flex its muscles.
It has been a tough start to the season for the Jaguars of South Alabama. They are currently 1-2, with losses to Texas-San Antonio and NC State. Their lone win came against Nicholls State. They failed to score a touchdown in that win.
South Alabama is averaging a mere 15.2 points per game. They rush for around 95 yards per game, and throw for about 205 per game. They are averaging around 300 yards of total offense a game (I thought I'd save you a step on that simple math). They have scored twice this year on the ground and just three times through the air. They have thrown three picks. Jonathan Banks, Darius Slay, and the MSU secondary could double that number by the time the Jags leave Starkville. The Jaguar offensive line has yielded 11 sacks on the season.
To say the least, the South Alabama offense has looked unimpressive. And this coming against far inferior opponents that they will face on Saturday(to be fair, NC State isn't bad, but they crushed the Jags). It could be a long day for the South Alabama offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Jaguars have been able to get after the quarterback a bit. They have sacked opposing quarterback 10 times this season. However, the Jaguar defense has been shaky in the first half of contests. They have given up 67 total points on the season - 28 of those points have been conceded in the first quarter, and 23 in the second quarter. So look for MSU to come out guns blazing. They should get an early boost from the home crowd and it could get ugly quick in this one.
Another stat of note for the Jaguars is penalties. They have been penalized 21 times this season for a total of 225 yards lost.
All these stats are nice to see if you're an MSU fan, but folks, this one isn't rocket science. I think it comes down to size and athleticism in the trenches for the Bulldogs in this one. As it should when an SEC team takes on a team from the Sun Belt. The SEC should always beat the Sun Belt, right, Kentucky?
On the offensive line, the Jaguars average 6-3 and 295. For MSU, they average 6-5 and 303.
On the defensive line, the Jags average 6-2 and 260. For MSU, they average 6-4 and 285.
Folks, the Bulldogs are bigger as those numbers tell you. What those numbers do not tell you is the difference in athleticism. The Bulldogs are much more athletic as well. I think this game will be won in the trenches and to be honest, I think it will be won by the second quarter. Then we shall she how the second string offensive and defensive lines look against the Jaguars.