MSU TESTS FINAL EASTERN DIVISION FOE OF 2003
When Mississippi State plays at Tennessee this weekend, it will be the Bulldogs' third and final game against a Southeastern Conference Eastern Division opponent this season. The Bulldogs have split their two previous SEC East games this season. State is 19-16 against teams from the SEC East since the league adopted the divisional format in 1992.
STATE EYES CHANGE IN TELEVISED OUTCOMES
Mississippi State will look to end a 10-game losing streak in games that have appeared on live
television. In fact, MSU has dropped 15 of its last 16 televised games. The Bulldogs have not been victorious on television since a 36-28 win over Mississippi in 2001.
BULLDOGS LOOK TO HALT ROAD LOSS STREAKS
When the Bulldogs tangle with the Volunteers this weekend, Mississippi State will be looking to end a pair of road losing streaks. State has lost its last six road games overall and has dropped 11 consecutive SEC games away from Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field.
MSU HAS NOT BEEN 2-8 IN MORE THAN 30 YEARS
Mississippi State will look to avert a 2-8 mark after 10 games on the field for the first time since 1971. That designation is required, since MSU was forced to forfeit games in 1975, '76 and '77. The Bulldogs finished that 1971 season 2-9.
MISSISSIPPI STATE-TENNESSEE TICKET UPDATE
A crowd in excess of 104,000 is expected for the Mississippi State-Tennessee game. It will be the largest crowd ever to watch the Bulldogs play. Tickets may still be purchased for the Bulldogs'
season-ending game with Mississippi at the Bryan Athletic Administration Building Ticket Office, Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 p.m. To purchase your tickets, call the MSU ticket office at 888-GO-DAWGS or locally at 325-2600, or visit the ticket office on campus.
FIVE BULLDOGS FACE HOME STATE SCHOOL
When Mississippi State visits Tennessee, five Bulldogs players will be facing their home-state
institution. Split end Brandon Wright, offensive tackle James Cochran, and defensive end Roosevelt Tate all hail from Memphis, while fullback/tight end Nick Signaigo (Collierville) and snapper Russell Cook (Jackson) also call the Volunteer State home.
THREE VOLUNTEER PLAYERS FACE HOME-STATERS
Three Tennessee players will face their home-state school when Mississippi State visits Neyland
Stadium this weekend. Sophomore defensive end Parys Haralson (Madison Central HS), sophomore defensive back Chris Heath (Hattiesburg HS), and non-scholarship squad member Casey Woods (Starkville Academy), the son of former MSU offensive coordinator Sparky Woods, all hail from the Magnolia State.
SMITH KICKS WAY TO MSU RECORDS, ALL-SEC VOTE
Senior place-kicker Brent Smith (Byhalia, Miss.) connected on his lone field goal attempt against Kentucky two weeks ago and was two of two on extra-point tries. That three-pointer gives him 22 field goals made in his career, good for eighth place on the school's all-time field goal chart. He trails Kinney
Jordan (23; 1975-76) for the seventh spot on that list. Smith has now made 16 of his last 17 field-goal efforts, dating to Week 7 of the 2002 season. With his extra-point successes against the Wildcats, he now has a string of 34 straight points after touchdown in his two-year Bulldog career. The MSU career record for consecutive PATs converted is 37 (Kinney Jordan, 1975-76).
SMITH HAS REGAINED HIS DEEP KICKOFF ABILITY
Smith has kicked off for the Bulldogs since the first game of his junior season. Although he has been hampered by back miseries during his brief career, he has been a very dependable touchback kicker when healthy. During the first five weeks of the '02 season, he was eight-of-15 (.533) on touchbacks. As his back ailments flared during the final seven weeks of the year, he was six-of-26 (.231) on kickoffs for touchback. In the first four games of the '03 season, he was just one-of-nine (.111) on kickoffs, and was
sidelined temporarily by his back ailment. During the last five games, however, Smith has regained his form, drilling 12-of-17 (.706) for touchbacks. These numbers represent full-field kickoffs only.
JENKINS STILL HAMPERED BY ARM INJURY
Mississippi State senior wide receiver Justin Jenkins (Pearl, Miss.) is putting together a
highlight-reel senior season, and only and injury seems to slow the Bulldog pass-catcher. He caught three passes for 30 yards at Kentucky in Week 8, but missed nearly half the game as medical staff dealt with a severe laceration on his arm. This past week, still sporting a pad protecting the stitches still in his arm, he had a pair of catches for 9 yards. He has surpassed 100 yards receiving in a game six times in his career -- four times this season. Jenkins had back-to-back career-best receiving performances at Tulane and Houston in Weeks 2-3. He caught nine passes for 172 yards, a 19.1-yard average, and two touchdowns against the Cougars, and nine passes for 164 yards and two scores against the Green Wave. The nine catches against Tulane were the most by a Bulldog since Eric Moulds hauled in 10 passes against Auburn eight years ago (10/7/95). The yardage totals were the eighth and 10th-most in a single game, and most receiving yards since Moulds had 183 yards vs. Tennessee (9/23/95). Jenkins was second in the SEC in receptions (5.78 per game), but led the league in receiving yardage (85.6 ypg) after the season's ninth week.
FANT NEARS TOP OF PASS LISTS AS CAREER CLOSES
Mississippi State senior Kevin Fant (Moss Point, Miss.) completed 14-of-29 passes for 100 yards against Alabama in Week 9. Earlier this year at Houston, he completed 24-of-42 passes (.571) for 360 yards and three touchdowns. His completions, attempts, and yards were all career highs. It was the fifth time in his career that he had thrown for three TDs in one game. Against UH, he became the first MSU QB to throw for more than 300 yards in four career games.
FANT IS 2ND ALL-TIME IN COMPLETIONS AND PASSING YARDS, 3RD IN TDS
His 14 completions against Alabama give him 425 for his career, second on school's all-time passing list. Wayne Madkin leads that list with 462 connections. With his passing yardage against the Crimson Tide, he now has 5,325, the second-most ever on the school's yardage list, surpassing Don Smith (5,229; 1983-86) and Derrick Taite (5,232, 1993-96) on the all-time chart. He is third all-time at the school in touchdowns with 32. Wayne Madkin stands second (34; 1998-01). The 35 touchdowns Fant is responsible for in his career tie him for sixth all-time at State with Rockey Felker (35; 1972-74). His 91 yards of total offense vs. Alabama have him fifth all-time with 5,168 yards for his career. Derrick Taite (1993-96) is fourth with 5,405 yards. In addition, his current completion percentage (.535) would rank fourth on the all-time MSU list; his current interception percentage (.0465) would rate seventh.
FANT REACHES SINGLE-SEASON TOP 10 IN TDS, NEARS THAT RANK ELSEWHERE
With his 13 passing touchdowns this year, Fant already has made State's single-season passing TDs list. Those 13 scoring aerials tie Tony Shell (13; 1988) for fourth in a single campaign at the school. Fant¹s completions (150), attempts (280) and yardage (1,845) already rank seventh, 10th and 10th, respectively on the school¹s single-season passing charts.
MAWHINNEY NAMED PRESEASON ALL-SEC
Like Smith, senior inside linebacker T. J. Mawhinney (Madisonville, La.) was named second-team, all-Southeastern Conference in a preseason vote of the league's media representatives. Mawhinney was credited with eight tackles against Alabama. It was just the fifth time in 13 games (dating back to '02) that he had not made at least 10 hits in a game. He had registered double-digit tackle games in each of the first four '03 contests. Mawhinney had 15 tackles, including one tackle for loss (minus 1 yard), and caused one fumble in the season opener vs. Oregon. The tackle total matched his career high, a 15-tackle effort at Alabama in 2001.
CLARK RETURNS TO DEFENSE AS ALL-SEC CHOICE
Senior defensive end Jason Clark (Starkville, Miss.) had six tackles against Alabama in Week 9.
Clark has been credited with five career fumble recoveries, and has had four tackles for loss (minus 16 yards), two fumble recoveries and three pass break ups from his defensive end position this season.
TURNER RANKS AMONG LEAGUE LEADERS
Sophomore tailback Nick Turner (Atlanta, Ga.) continues to rank among the Southeastern Conference's leaders in a variety of categories. Turner is third in the league in all-purpose yardage, averaging 124 yards per game. He leads the conference and ranks 19th nationally in kickoff return average with a 26.6 mean on 12 returns. The tandem of Turner and junior Fred Reid (Tampa, Fla.) has helped MSU rank 12 nationally in kick returns (24.7).
KELLY CAUSING HAVOC FOR OPPONENTS IN '03
Senior defensive tackle Tommy Kelly (Jackson, Miss.) has been a nuisance to opponents this season from almost every defensive statistic standpoint. Kelly leads MSU in five defensive categories, including sacks (4.0), tackles for loss (12.0), caused fumbles (3.0), recoveries (3.0) and quarterback pressures (11). In addition to those stats, he also stands sixth for MSU in tackles (47) and is tied for fourth on the team in pass deflections (3). In State's most recent outing vs. Alabama, Kelly registered six tackles, three of which were for 14 yards in losses. He also had on sack (minus 11 yards) and a pressure in the game.