Entering the SEC opener for both teams, Mississippi State is averaging 27 points per game, but scored just three in a season-opening loss to Oklahoma State in Houston. Averaging 444.5 yards of offense per game, the Bulldogs are expected to have two quarterbacks see the field this weekend against Auburn and both are capable of getting the job done.
A senior and veteran, Tyler Russell completed 10-16 passes in the opener against Oklahoma State, but a concussion kept him out of action last week. He's currently fifth in career passing yards at MSU with 4,699 and fourth with 349 completions.
In his place talented dual-threat sophomore Dak Prescott played well for the Bulldogs in an easy win over Alcorn State. For the season Prescott is 19-36 for 263 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Auburn will likely have to contend with both on Saturday night.
In the running game the Bulldogs have four different backs who can get the job done led by senior LaDarius Perkins. Sitting out of the Alcorn State game because of an ankle sprain, Perkins is expected to be full speed this weekend. In the opener he rushed for 50 yards on 16 carries and he enters the contest with more than 2,000 rushing yards and 3,500 all-purpose yards.
The future of the position is physical freshman Ashton Shumpert. He had 98 yards on 22 carries in his debut last weekend, becoming the first freshman to lead MSU in rushing since Anthony Dixon in 2006.
Quarterback Tyler Russell
Despite playing just two games, Mississippi State has 15 different players who have caught a pass already this season. Leading the way is Jameon Lewis. Catching just 10 passes all of last season, Lewis has seven receptions for 90 yards and one of two receiving touchdowns for the Bulldogs this year. Malcolm Johnson (5-79) and Alabama's Mr. Basketball De'Runnya Wilson (4-48) provide some size in the passing game.
Up front senior guard Gabe Jackson is the unquestioned leader for the Bulldogs. A preseason All-American, Jackson is a physical presence in the middle for the offensive line along with center Dillon Day.
Defensively, Mississippi State is off to a very good start in 2013. In the opener the Bulldogs held Oklahoma State to just 21 points, 25 below its season average from last year. They also held the Cowboys scoreless in the first quarter, the first time in 35 quarters that had happened to Mike Gundy's team.
Even with the positives it was far from a complete performance for Mullen's group as Oklahoma State ran for an impressive 286 yards on 40 carries and piled up 22 first downs.
The strength of the defense remains with the front seven as linebackers Deontae Lawrence and Benardrick McKinney are two of the most active players in the league at their position. Veterans Denico Autry and Caleb Eulls provide an anchor on the defensive line while true freshman Chris Jones is headed for stardom at defensive tackle following an outstanding prep career.
In two games Skinner and Lawrence have a combined 25 tackles and the team's only interception this season. Senior Nickoe Whitley returns in the secondary as the top player in the group. With 179 career tackles and 10 interceptions, Whitley is perhaps the top playmaker on defense for the Mississippi State defense.
Fellow secondary starters Teveze Calhoun and Kendrick Markert have combined for 16 tackles in two weeks with Calhoun having both a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Off to a good start just two games into his sophomore season, kicker Devon Bell has made 47-49 extra points in his career and 16-24 field goals. Senior punter Baker Swedenburg enters Saturday night's game with a career 41.6 yard average, good enough for 15th among all active FBS players. He has 37 career punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
MISSISSIPPI STATE DEPTH CHART
WR 16 Joe Morrow 6-4 210 SO.
81 De'Runnya Wilson 6-5 215 Fr.
WR 4 JAMEON LEWIS 5-9 195 JR.
10 Brandon Holloway 5-8 165 RFr.
LG 61 GABE JACKSON 6-4 335 SR.
59 Archie Muniz 6-5 300 Jr.
C 63 DILLON DAY 6-4 300 JR.
55 Dylan Holley 6-3 290 Sr.
RG 66 Ben Beckwith 6-3 305 JR.
78 Damien Robinson 6-8 335 Jr.
RT 77 CHARLES SIDDOWAY 6-7 305 SR.
58 Justin Senior 6-5 300 RFr.
TE 6 MALCOLM JOHNSON 6-2 235 JR.
18 Brandon Hill 6-2 240 Jr.
QB 17 TYLER RUSSELL 6-4 220 SR.
15 Dak Prescott 6-2 230 So.
DT 96 CHRIS JONES 6-5 305 FR.
94 Nelson Adams 6-3 295 RFr.
DE 90 DENICO AUTRY 6-6 265 SR.
47 A.J. Jefferson 6-3 260 Fr.
LB 22 Matthew Wells 6-2 215 JR.
14 Zach Jackson 6-2 215 So.
LB 50 BENARDRICK MCKINNEY 6-5 235 SO.
39 Richie Brown 6-0 225 Fr.
CB 13 Cedric Jiles 5-10 180 RFR.
33 Kivon Coman 6-3 195 Fr.
FS 1 NICKOE WHITLEY 6-1 205 SR.
38 Dee Arrington 6-1 220 Jr.
PK 40 DEVON BELL 6-2 195 SO.
40 Evan Sobiesk 5-8 180 RFr.
P 41 BAKER SWEDENBERG 6-0 205 SR.
39 Mike Mordecai 6-3 195 RFr