Northwestern features a solid rushing attack. RB Ventric Mark has 1,310 yards and 11 TD this year, QB Kain Colter has 820 yards and 12 TD. As a team, they rank 14th in the country at almost 231 YPG.
Mississippi State has not been a run-stuffing defense this year at 166 YPG - that is 71st in the country and 11th in the SEC.
NW's passing offense is pretty bad - 112th in the country. They are down there with Georgia Tech, Navy, Air Force and Auburn (somehow Florida managed to be 11-1 with the 118th best passing offense). With the talented secondary MSU has (if they'll use them properly), the clear focus has to be on the run.
I'd love to see Nick James clogging up the middle, and Quay Evans in there too. But the Wildcats are going to run on the outside as well, and so I think having Denico Autry and Shane McCardell to chase the lateral runs will be key. I'd proabably start McCardell over Kaleb Eulls here as he is a big DE, and has been disappointing this year. Matthew Wells could also play a big role, Nickoe Whitley too. State's got the horses to stop this rushing attack if they'll use them correctly.
Stop Northwestern's running game, stop Northwestern's offense.