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Opponent preview: Missouri’s defense

Missouri’s defensive line is banged up and has given up more than 600 yards rushing across its past two games.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Tennessee Knoxville News-Sentinel-USA TODAY NETWORK

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Mississippi State football team closes out the 2020 college football regular season at home against the Missouri Tigers on Saturday. Kickoff at Davis Wade Stadium is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT and will air on SEC Network Alternate.

Defensively, the Tigers rank ninth in the Southeastern Conference in average yards allowed per game, fifth in passing defense, eighth in rushing defense and ninth in scoring defense.

The Tigers, who allow 30.2 points per game, have allowed 240.3 yards passing and 163.4 yards rushing for an average of 403.8 total yards per game. The Tigers have allowed 608 yards rushing across their past two games, 316 to Georgia and 292 to Arkansas. Mississippi State ranks dead last in rushing offense, though, averaging just 23.2 yards rushing per game.

Missouri’s injury report for this week is extensive, especially on the defensive side. Senior safety Tyree Gillespie, redshirt freshman defensive back Ishmael Burdine and junior defensive back Jarvis Ware are all out this week. Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz said that it is a positive thing for Missouri that Mississippi State doesn’t run the ball because pretty much the whole defensive line will be questionable this week.

Junior linebacker Nick Bolton anchors the Missouri defense with 88 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Devin Nicholson is second with 69 tackles, while sophomore safety Martez Manuel is third with 59. Redshirt defensive lineman Trajan Jeffcoat has recorded 23 tackles and a team-high 6.0 sacks, but he is one of the members of the defensive line who is questionable to play.