KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Fresh off a bye week, Mississippi State returns to action in Knoxville to play the Volunteers at Neyland Stadium.
Mississippi State enters this week with a 3-2 (1-1 SEC) record, while Tennessee sits at 1-4 (0-2 SEC).
This is the first time the Bulldogs have played Tennessee since 2012 and the first time they have played at Neyland Stadium since 2008. In the last meeting, the Bulldogs topped the Vols 41-31 in Starkville. It was was the Bulldogs’ first win over the Vols since 1994 and snapped a six-game losing streak in the series. Tennessee defeated MSU 34-3 the last time the Bulldogs visited Knoxville in 2008.
Junior running back Kylin Hill will look to bounce back after being limited to 45 yards rushing against Auburn.
A big question mark for the Bulldogs is who the starting quarterback will be. Head coach Joe Moorhead hasn’t said who’s starting. We’ll likely see both senior Tommy Stevens, who has started all but one game for MSU this season, and true freshman Garrett Shrader, who has one career start so far, playing in the game.
Tennessee on the other hand has given the starting nod to true freshman Brian Maurer, who made his first career start last week against No. 3 Georgia in a 43-14 loss. Maurer completed 14-of-28 passes for 259 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The Tennessee defense is allowing 158 rushing yards per contest, which is 11th in the Southeastern Conference and 69th in the FBS.
Now for the staff picks.
Collin Wilmes: Although Tennessee has struggled thus far in the season, the Bulldogs have to come to play. I expect MSU to take advantage of the Vols’ weak rush defense and ground-and-pound with Kylin Hill. Final score: Mississippi State wins 34-21.
Landon Young: I’m taking the Bulldogs to go to Knoxville and win in big fashion. Sounds like we’ll get both Shrader and Stevens, but I’ve got Shrader and Hill dominating the running game and leading the team to a 35-17 win.
Gil Maneclang: Moorhead allows the suspended players to play the Vols in Knoxville for this one. This means an almost full-strength defense. MSU smothers the freshman QB Maurer and he makes some bad decisions. Kylin Hill and company run all day with ease. The Bulldogs win against my second least favorite SEC team. Final score: Mississippi State wins 38-14.
William Mitchell: This game will decide the faith of the 2019 season for the bulldogs, as well as an opportunity for Tennessee to break a losing streak in the SEC that dates back to 2017. In the end, Mississippi State is the better team on paper but has failed to show up on a consistent basis this season. I believe Tennessee breaks the streak this week and gets the win. Final score: Tennessee wins 28-24.
Andrew Robert: Fresh off their bye, the Bulldogs head into one of the nation’s most hostile environments with plenty of rest. Though the game will be played at Neyland Stadium, Mississippi State has a chip on its shoulder and should jump out of the gate early. With that said, expect the Volunteers to put up a respectable fight, but come up just short. Final score: Mississippi State wins 28-21.
Reece Monroe: This game is personal to me. Growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I have spent my entire life listening to the worst fans in the world. The Tennessee fan base still thinks that it’s 1998 and well...it isn’t. With it being a noon ET kickoff, I think most of the fans won’t show because “it’s only MSU.” The stadium won’t be near capacity and the Bulldogs will have to take full advantage of the opportunity for a road SEC win. Final score: Mississippi State wins 38-17.
You can watch the game on Saturday at 11 a.m. CT on SEC Network.