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Mississippi State vs. Missouri Game Preview

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MSU travels west to the newest Columbia in the SEC East.

Where: Columbia, Missouri at Memorial Stadium

When: 8:00 PM Central Time

TV: ESPN

Mississippi State has never beaten Missouri, but they have only played twice, in 1981 and 1984.  Mississippi State is 6-2 (2-2), and Missouri 4-4 (1-4).  Missouri's only SEC win came at home against South Carolina, which was freshman quarterback Drew Lock's first career start.  Maty Mauk was supposed to return for Missouri at quarterback, but is now suspended for the rest of the season.  Missouri hasn't met expectations this season, contrary to their first two SEC seasons.  They are still hoping to get to a bowl game.  They need to win two games out of MSU, BYU, Tennessee, and Arkansas.  Also, their coach announced that they are wearing these uniforms.  Mississippi State isn't yet mathematically eliminated from the SEC West, even though MSU would need to win the rest of the regular season games for that to happen, and get lots of help from other teams.  With the sixth win of the season coming against Kentucky, Mississippi State is now playing to try to get the best bowl game possible.

Team Statistics

Mississippi State Missouri MSU (SEC) MSU (NCAA) MIZZ (SEC) MIZZ (NCAA)
Scoring Offense 35 14 4 36 14 126
Total Yards (Offense) 445 278 4 39 14 125
Rushing Offense 150 101 11 94 14 121
Passing Offense 296 177 2 22 13 101
Scoring Defense 18 13 4 21 1 3
Total Yards (Defense) 375 282 8 54 2 6
Rushing Defense 162 121 9 60 6 23
Passing Defense 214 162 7 56 1 6
Turnover Margin .13 .13 8 64 8 64
Interceptions 8 8 5 47 5 47
Yards Penalized 313 320 4 13 5 15
Sacks Per Game 2.50 2.88 6 36 3 19
Tackles for Loss Per Game 7.9 9.0 4 15 2 5
Net Yards Punting 37 41 8 69 4 14

More stats are available here.  According to Bill Connelly's S&P rankings (he is a Missouri fan who writes for Rock M Nation by the way), Mississippi State has faced the 62nd toughest schedule, and Missouri has faced the 69th toughest schedule.  With Mississippi State only having SEC games left, and Missouri having only SEC games left with the exception of a 6-2 BYU team, both team's strength of schedule will improve drastically by the end of the season.

Factors to watch for

Weather

There is already an article about it here.  The weather could benefit Missouri if the rain hurts Mississippi State's passing offense.

Defensive Ends

Once again, Missouri has good defensive ends.  Walter Brady, a redshirt freshman, and Charles Harris, a redshirt sophomore, both have six sacks on the season.  Brady has 9.5 tackles for loss, and Harris has 15.5.  Since the Mississippi State offense has heavily relied on the pass this season, these are two of the most important players on Missouri's defense.

Drew Lock

Due to Maty Mauk's suspension, Missouri native Drew Lock has started every game since beating South Carolina in his starting debut.  The rest of his games have not gone well.  His game by game stats are below.

Completion % Yards per pass attempt TD Passes Interceptions Adjusted QB Rating
South Carolina 75 4.9 2 0 70
Florida 41 3.9 0 2 12
Georgia 42 5.5 0 0 26
Vanderbilt 41 3.2 0 0 40
Total Season 50.7 5.0 3 3 33

His yards per pass attempt don't include pass plays where he got sacked.  Adjusted QB rating is on a scale from 0-100, with 50 being average.  For a frame of reference, Dak Prescott has an adjusted QB rating of 83.6.

I didn't list any rushing stats, but Lock isn't really a running threat.  From watching his games against South Carolina and Georgia, it looks like his coaches don't let him throw very many deep passes.

Lack of a Running Game

There has been an abundance of discussion over MSU's running game, so I'll summarize it by saying that Prescott is a big running threat (not exactly a bold statement), Holloway is a good change of pace runningback, and there are a few players like Dear who might get one or two carries.  Shumpert has missed the last two games, but is listed on the depth chart for this one.  No runningback has emerged as an every down threat.

For Missouri, Russell Hansbrough was supposed to be one of the best, if not the best player on their offense.  However, he was injured in the season opener against Southeast Missouri State, and hasn't really returned to the level he was at in 2014.  Ish Witter has averaged 3.8 yards per carry, and had his best games against Kentucky and South Carolina.

Kentrell Brothers

The Missouri linebacker gets his own section, because the senior has 103 tackles, with 7 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.  I don't really have much else to say, because the previous sentence speaks for itself.

Avoiding Mistakes

Dak Prescott only has one interception on the season, and Mississippi State has 11 fumbles, so the best thing MSU can do to avoid giving the game away is to simply hold on to the ball.  Both teams have done a very good job of not committing penalties.

The Outlook

ESPN says Mississippi State has a 70% chance to win, and the spread is MSU -7.5.

Score Prediction

Mississippi State 20, Missouri 7