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Mississippi State ready for homecoming showdown with Vanderbilt

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Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT.

Arkansas v Mississippi State Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A pair of teams on four-game losing streaks collide on Saturday inside Davis Wade Stadium as the Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-4) play the Vanderbilt Commodores (0-4) in their 82nd homecoming football game.

The last-place teams in their respective Southeastern Conference divisions will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT. The contest will be televised by SEC Network.

Mississippi State will be wearing special throwback uniforms featuring the historic Flying M logo, which was used throughout the late 1960s and early ‘70s.

The Bulldogs have an all-time record of 55-22-3 in homecoming matchups and have won 10 straight. MSU and Vanderbilt are meeting for the 23rd time and the first time since 2014. State leads the all-time series 13-7-2.

The Commodores have lost seven straight road games dating back to their last win on Oct. 27, 2018, when Vanderbilt topped the Arkansas Razorbacks 45-31. Vanderbilt is just 1-6 in Starkville.

The Bulldogs are 13th in the SEC in scoring with 14.8 points per game. The only team in the SEC to score less than them is, you guessed it, the Commodores, who have scored an average of 11.3 points per game.

The Bulldogs are coming off a 41-0 road loss to No. 2 Alabama, which marks the first time head coach Mike Leach has been shutout. Since upsetting defending national champion LSU Tigers 44-34 in the opener, MSU has been outscored 114-30.

Quarterback remains a question mark for MSU between graduate transfer K.J. Costello and freshman Will Rogers. Costello took a knee to the helmet and left the Alabama game in the second quarter. Rogers came in and finished 24-of-37 passing for 147 yards and two interceptions. Leach didn’t give much update on Costello’s status, saying he’s being monitored.

Fifth-year senior wide receiver Osirus Mitchell is State’s top receiver with 22 catches for 304 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver JaVonta Payton is second on the team with 17 catches for 204 yards and one score.

Freshman running back Jo’quavious Marks leads a lackluster rushing attack with 121 yards rushing on 31 carries.

Although Mississippi State gave up 499 yards to Alabama last week, the Bulldogs remain one of the SEC’s best defenses. The Bulldogs are second in total defense (336.2 yards allowed per game), still have best pass defense (212 yards allowed per game) and are third against the run (124.2 yards allowed per game).

Vanderbilt has had to deal with several injuries, which has left the Commodores’ defense short-handed. A COVID-19 outbreak also interrupted their season, forcing a three-week pause before last week’s 54-21 loss to Ole Miss. Vanderbilt Surrendered 449 yards passing and seven touchdowns to the Rebels. In their last three games, the Commodores have been outscored 136-35.

Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason said that freshman defensive back Donovan Kaufman is out for the season due to a medical-related issue. Kaufman also served as a kick returner. Mason also said junior running back Ja’Veon Marlow, who is first on the team in rushing with 148 yards, is suspended.

Vanderbilt freshman quarterback Ken Seals keeps improving and has shown he can be an effective passer at an SEC level. He is completing 67% of his passes and threw for a career-high 319 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in last week’s loss.

Junior wide receiver Cam Johnson leads the Commodores with 23 receptions for 224 yards and a touchdown. Junior tight end Ben Bresnahan is No. 2 on the team and has hauled in 17 receptions for 169 yards receiving and two scores.

Vanderbilt’s rushing attack is usually a three-man committee approach among Marlow, sophomore running back Keyon Henry-Brooks and fifth-year senior Jamauri Wakefield, but it will have to be a two-man committee with Marlow being suspended. Henry-Brooks is second on the team with 138 yards rushing and a score, while Wakefield has produced 116 yards rushing.

SEC Network’s broadcast will include Taylor Zarzour (play-by-play), Matt Stinchcomb (analyst) and sideline reporter Dawn Davenport.