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Mississippi State vs. Louisiana Tech Game Preview

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It's the battle of the Bulldogs as Louisiana Tech visits Davis Wade Stadium for MSU's second non-conference game in a row.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Where

Davis wade stadium

When

11 a.m.

TV

secn

Mississippi State (4-2) faces its toughest test of the non-conference slate as Louisiana Tech (4-2) comes to town for an 11 a.m. kick.

Tech is one or two plays away from being undefeated and gave Kansas State a scare on their home field before losing a close 39-33 contest. They have the talent to pull off an upset in Starkville and they won't be overlooked by Dan Mullen.

This is the kind of game where MSU has nothing to gain and a whole lot to lose. The season could derail with a loss this week, so they will have to show up and play for four quarters -- something they haven't done yet.

Buckle up State fans, you might be sweating this one out a lot longer than you would prefer.

Where do they rank?

MSU offense                               LA Tech defense

Points per game- 32.3 (47th)         Points per game- 26.2 (69th)

Total YPG-  422.5 (50th)                       Total YPG- 360.8 (47th)

Passing YPG- 272.5 (28th)                 Passing YPG- 249.2 (94th)

Rushing YPG- 150 (91st)               Rushing YPG- 111.7 (23rd)

LA Tech Offense                    MSU defense

Points per game- 39.5 (14th)           Points per game- 17.7 (24th)

Total YPG- 493.7 (17th)                     Total YPG- 361 (48th)

Passing YPG- 319.7 (16th)               Passing YPG- 190.8 (38th)

Rushing YPG- 174 (66th)               Rushing YPG- 170.2 (74th)

Headlines to watch

Run game likely to struggle again

LA tech will challenge MSU's offensive line as much as some teams in the SEC would. They have a very good defensive line, featured by NFL prospect Vernon Butler out of Summit, Mississippi. The 316-pound Butler -- who is on the Outland and Lombardi Award watch lists -- hasn't had the monster season he had a year ago, but that's because he has gotten a lot more attention. MSU will have to double team him to keep him from living in the backfield.

LA tech's defense has been stout against the run, as you can see from the stats above. Their run defense ranks 23rd in the country and first in their conference. Will we see Dak Prescott be heavily involved on the ground again? Probably not since it's a non-conference game, but without him I think the running backs will have another underwhelming performance.

Manny Diaz faces his old team

A lot has been made this week about Diaz facing the team he coached at last season and who has more of the advantage because of it. Obviously Diaz will know a lot of their personnel and their strengths and weaknesses. LA tech's coaches will know Diaz's tendencies and where he likes to bring pressure depending on the situation.

I think both teams will take advantage of this and there will be times where you see a perfect play call dialed up because one coach knows exactly what the other team is doing. But I think the coaches will try to break some of their tendencies this week so the familiarity with one another won't cause one team to win the game because of it. It will certainly make a difference at times, but for the most part I think you'll see Diaz change up some terminology to prevent Tech from holding too much of an advantage.

Resurgence of Jeff Driskel

I'm sure you remember the Driskel days at Florida and how much he struggled to play quarterback in the SEC. I honestly didn't expect much more out of him when he transferred to LA tech, but he appears to be a different player. Now i know the competition isn't the same, but the Driskel I saw last season at Florida wouldn't have played quality football against a JUCO team.

Driskel has actually put together a solid season thus far, throwing for 302 yards per game and tossing 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions. He has also added 211 yards and five touchdowns on the ground so MSU will have to account for that. We all remember how easily the Auburn and Texas A&M QB's beat State on the read option.

Oh no, not a Dixon

There will be a Bulldog on the field with the last name Dixon, and no, his first name won't be Anthony and he won't be wearing maroon and white. Tech has a running back named Kenneth Dixon that scouts will be watching in Starkville Saturday. Dixon has started ever since he was a freshman and held the school record for rushing yards before this season ever started.

He has rushed for 116 yards per game and averaged over 6 yards a carry this season. He was placed on the preseason watch lists for both the Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. Dixon did sit out last game with an injured ankle, but head coach Skip Holtz expects him to be on the field this week against MSU.

Prediction

LA Tech has had MSU's number for quite some time. When they aren't beating them, they are making it a close game. The last time they came to Starkville in 2011, State had to pull out a close game in overtime. This is the game everybody pointed to at the beginning of the season that would be Mullen's usual once a year scare in the out of conference. With it being an 11 a.m. game, the atmosphere won't be what it needs to be to frustrate LA Tech. They will make it a close game, but MSU will pull away in the fourth quarter to survive the scare.

MSU- 31 Louisiana Tech- 17