Mississippi State is coming off a much-needed bye week after a three-game stretch that featured LSU, Georgia, and Auburn. The Bulldogs were able to snag the first game against LSU in dominating fashion but faltered on the road against two very good teams in Georgia and Auburn. Now the question is can they bounce back? Luckily the schedule lines up perfectly for them to do just that. Over the next four weeks, State will have home games against BYU, Kentucky, and UMass with a road game in College Station against Texas A&M sandwiched in between.
BYU has struggled early in the season, winning just one out of six of their ball games so far. Their lone win came the opening weekend of the season at home against Portland State where they struggled offensively to a 20-6 win. Since that time they have faced LSU, Utah, Wisconsin, Utah State and Boise State where they have been outscored 150-50. It is no secret BYU has struggled, especially offensively, but that doesn’t mean the Bulldogs can take it easy on them this Saturday. If the Bulldogs are to get the win this weekend, these are the things you should be looking for.
Getting back to being dominant on defense
The defense, particularly the secondary, has struggled mightily the past two weekends against Georgia and Auburn, and this should be the perfect team to get back on track against. BYU lost their starting quarterback and running back from last year’s team, and it has shown every week so far. The Cougars have played four different quarterbacks so far this season that have combined to throw twelve interceptions to just four touchdowns and completed just over 50% of their passes. Their rushing attack hasn’t been much better either. The Cougars rank 124th out of 130 teams in the country with just 83 yards per contest, including being held to -5 yards against LSU in week one. Mississippi State should be able to impose their will up front and shut down this BYU offense. If not, it could be a long last two months of football for State fans.
Be dominant running the football
Over the last two games, Mississippi State has struggled to run the ball effectively, averaging under 200 yards on the ground against Georgia and Auburn. This football team simply isn’t built to be effective when they struggle to run the ball. I want to see Nick Fitzgerald and Aeris Williams impose their will all game long this Saturday, there is no reason why both of them shouldn’t eclipse the 100-yard mark against this team. While it is true that BYU’s defense is a strength for them, they simply aren’t a SEC caliber team, especially up front. I expect to see a lot of read options and an offensive line that is starting to get healthy again, whip the front seven for BYU.
Can Jamal Couch or Reggie Todd step up and make some plays?
While I believe that BYU receives a heavy dose of the Bulldog rushing attack, Dan Mullen has hinted that both Jamal Couch and Reggie Todd would be getting some first-team reps throughout the bye week. It is no secret that the receiving corps has been the Achilles heel for the Bulldog offense thus far this season, but getting Todd or Couch comfortable on the outside and moving Gray to the slot could help. Coming into the season, the duo of Couch and Todd was getting a lot of hype about them potentially being the answer for the lack of a big play guy on the outside for the Bulldogs, but so far, that hasn’t been the case. The duo has combined for just 8 catches for 107 yards through five games, but you could see an increase in those numbers if they are nudged into a starting roll over the next couple of weeks.