Bulldogs Head to Ladd-Peebles

Mississippi State will become the first Southeastern Conference team to ever play a football game at South Alabama. The one in a "two-for-one" deal, signed by former MSU athletics director Greg Byrne will be played this weekend. The Bulldogs won the first ever match-up between the two schools in 2012, 30-10. State will play the visitors this weekend with the Jags returning to Starkville in 2016.

South Alabama head football coach Joey Jones took the job at South Alabama with designs on taking the upstart program to FBS status. That goal became a reality in 2012 when the Jaguars joined the Sunbelt Conference.

In just their second year on the D1 level, USA earned six wins and were in the hunt for a few more.

The 2013 Jags lost five games by seven points or less, including a 31-24 setback at Tennessee.

Just a few hundred tickets remain at press time, but all 40,000 seats are expected to be filled as USA officials easily project the program's first ever sell out.

Familiar faces

The coaching staff at South Alabama have made local talent a priority in their recruiting efforts with approximately half of the current roster made up of products of Alabama high school programs.

Sixteen current Jags elected to stay in their native Mobile and play for their hometown team.

There are eight Mississippians on the current South Alabama roster including a pair of prospects who spent some time on the Mississippi State campus as they sought out their college football futures.

Former Horn Lake running back Jay Jones was the leading rusher for the Jaguars last weekend in a season opening win over Kent State.

Jones rushed for 102 yards and a pair of scores last week picking up where he left out last season as South Alabama's top ground gainer.

Northwest Rankin product Nigel Green was in the Bulldog recruiting mix a few years back making appearances at Mississippi State's June camp and Big Dawg event in July.

Rounding out the Magnolia state Jags are twin brothers Steffon and Steven (Kemper County High), Jimmie Gipson III (Olive Branch), DeMarion Harper (McComb), Grant McLaurin (Forrest County AHS) and Melvin Meggs (Petal).

A Bridge to the Past

South Alabama quarterback Brandon Bridge is a familiar for for the Bulldogs. Bridge led Alcorn State into Davis Wade Stadium in 2010.

The Bulldogs were victorious, 49-16, but Bridge showed even back then that he was a name to remember. The highlight of his day was a 78 yard run for a touchdown in front of the Alcorn State bench.

Bridge elected to transfer from Alcorn after two seasons in hopes of getting some major college looks. A native of Canada, Bridge contacted Mississippi State to see if the Bulldogs were interested, but things never got serious between the two.

Now in his second year in Mobile, the senior signal caller is poised for a big campaign.

SEC Talents?

Mississippi State fans are more than a little curious about what to expect from the USA passing game.

Bridge has some talented targets to choose from when he elects to dial long distance.

Former Alabama Crimson Tiders Marvin Shinn and Danny Woodson lead a wide receiving corp that saw eight players catch at least one pass in the season opener.

Woodson led all pass catchers with three grabs for a modest 26 years, while Shinn had the big blow reeling in a 58 yarder which set up the decisive score, a Jay Jones' run to make the final Jag cushion, 23-13.

The Jags may feel tempted to take some shots in the vertical passing game after seeing the Bulldog game film against UAB.

By and large, the Jag offensive scheme has largely been built around the short passing game with some zone read to make Bridge even more of a threat.

No College Gameday

Local and USA officials lobbied ESPN to bring their Gameday crew to Mobile for their historic hosting, but to no avail.

The game will be broadcast on the ESPN family of networks on ESPNews at 3 PM central time.

While the Bulldogs should not expect to see Lee Corso and crew next weekend either, State will play the in the prime time slot on the ESPN flagship against LSU with a 6 PM kickoff.

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