September 2, 2009

Mullen talking Jackson State

Mississippi State's 2009 opener with Jackson State will not only be an important game for the program beginning the Dan Mullen era but it will also be historic in the fact it will be the first time a Southeastern Conference school has met a Southwest Athletic Conference opponent on the gridiron.

The two instate institutions have met in the other two major sports but Saturday's game will likely usher in a new rivalry in the Magnolia State.

"I think there is a lot of excitement about this game in the state right now," Mullen said. "Just the attention that it gets from Jackson State and their football tradition, they have had great players play there. They are coming off a year where they play for their conference championship and have huge expectations this year. If you add that along with it's my first game as a head coach and the excitement on our campus, if you combine those two things that's what makes this a real exciting matchup especially the fact that they are an instate school."

The Tigers went 7-5 last season and reached the SWAC Championship game before falling 41-9 to snap a six-game winning streak.

Mullen has done his homework on Jackson State from last season but understands a completely new Tiger team will take the field on Saturday.

"Like any team, we studied a lot of the things they did last year," Mullen said. "I think early on in the season one of the difficult things is we studied a lot of what they did last year. But they are a different team this year. You have that little change between the personnel with guys that graduate and move on. You have to build for this year's team and that's what makes it tough to prepare early in the season."

Jackson State averaged 297.8 yards of total offense last season and have eight players on their roster that transferred in from Division-I programs including Mississippi State, Louisiana Tech, South Florida, Memphis, Tennessee and Temple.

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