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September 24, 2010
Battle of the Bulldogs
In this Bulldog-to-Bulldog football match-up, both teams go into Saturday's 6 p.m. kickoff game with a 1-2 overall record and a 0-2 record in the SEC. The Bulldogs of Mississippi State University return back to Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field for a Fox Sports televised date with fellow SEC rivals, the Bulldogs of the University of Georgia.
This weekend, UGA will make its sixth trip to the Bulldog nation where they are 4-1. Mississippi State looks to snap a two-game losing steak when it faces Georgia on the gridiron. Currently, the Bulldogs of Georgia lead the series 16-5 and have won the last nine meetings between the two teams. The last win for the Starkville natives was in 1974 when they claimed a 34-17 decision in Jackson.
"We're excited," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "It's a big week for our team right now. We've played two tough Top 25 teams the past two weeks and came up short. This is a big game for us to get the season turned around in the right direction and on the winning track. We're looking to improve our program from where we were last year."
The Bulldogs from the Magnolia State dropped to 1-2 on their season record after falling to the LSU 29-7 in their first road trip of the season. However, the Bulldogs continue to improve in their ground game. State rushed for 192 yards against Memphis, 117 yards against Auburn and 152 yards in the Bayou against the LSU Tigers. In the first three games of the season, the Bulldogs scored at least one rushing touchdown against their opponent on the field.
UGA might have a tough third quarter ahead of them, because the MSU offense has been impossible for opponents to stop in the first possession coming out onto the field. In the first three games, the Bulldogs received the ball and took it down the field for a score each time.
After finishing 10th in the SEC a year ago, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and co-defensive coordinator Chris Wilson are looking to improve the Bulldogs defensive unit. Since the beginning of the season, State's defense ranks 27th nationally in total defense, 33rd in scoring defense and 22nd in passing defense. Also, State ranks among the top half of the SEC in each of those categories.
State's quarterbacks combined to toss five touchdowns in the opener against Memphis but have since thrown six interceptions and no touchdowns in the past two weeks.
Mullen has been working with first year starter Chris Relf as well as redshirt freshman Tyler Russell to continue improving at the position.
"I think when they look at it they see the opportunities are there on film for them," Mullen said. "Some of them are not their fault and are growing pains. Sometimes you have to throw the football away and that is something that they learn. I don't know that they are lacking any confidence in their abilities it's more in them understanding the offense and developing as a player in making good decisions."
After Saturday's match-up State returns back to action in competition with instate rival Alcorn State.