When ESPN2 telecasts MSU's season-opening game with Oregon Saturday night, it will mark the fourth-straight year the Bulldogs' opener has been televised to a national audience. State's '02 season opener at Oregon was telecast nationally by FOX, while MSU's '01 and '00 lidlifters were broadcast around the country by ESPN2 and FOX, respectively.
OREGON MAKES 1ST PAC-10 VISIT TO STARKVILLE
Mississippi State has only played two previous games against schools from the Pac-10 Conference (Washington in 1977 and Oregon last year). This Saturday's game is the first time a Pac-10 school has ever played at Mississippi State.
MSU BACK ON 'THE DEUCE' AFTER ONE YEAR HIATUS
Mississippi State returns to the ESPN2 airwaves in its season-opening game with Oregon for the first time since the 2001 season. 'The Deuce' carried four Bulldog games during that campaign and has televised 13 MSU games since 1996. State is out to break a three-game losing skid on ESPN2 ('01 games vs. BYU, LSU and at Auburn). MSU's last win on 'the Deuce' was a 30-10 victory over Memphis to open the '01 campaign.
BULLDOGS SOLID VS. NON-SEC SCHOOLS
Mississippi State has posted a 150-108-10 (.578) record all-time against teams that are not members of the Southeastern Conference, an impressive 29-8-1 (.776) mark in regular-season, non-conference games since Jackie Sherrill assumed the head coaching reins in 1991. MSU has won 12 of its last 15 games against non-conference competition.
STATE IMPRESSIVE ON NETWORK TELEVISION
Mississippi State has posted a 25-20 (.556) record in regular-season, network-televised games during the past six years. The Bulldogs, however, will be out to end a six-game losing streak on network television over the past two years when Oregon visits.
TV APPEARANCE 80TH UNDER SHERRILL
When ESPN2 airs the Mississippi State-Oregon game, it will be the 80th time in Jackie Sherrill's 141 games (.567) as head of the football program that the school has appeared on live television.
BULLDOGS ARE QUICK OUT OF THE STARTING GATE
Mississippi State has posted an impressive 72-29-2 (.709) record in season openers since the sport originated on the campus in 1895. MSU is 20-3 in its last 23 curtain calls. Under head coach Jackie Sherrill, the Bulldogs are 10-2 in season openers. Sherrill's Bulldogs are 9-2 (.818) in season openers against schools outside the Southeastern Conference. Overall, MSU is a scintillating 66-19-2 (.770) in season openers against non-conference competition and 48-12-1 (.795) in season openers at home.
MISSISSIPPI STATE EVEN BETTER IN HOME OPENERS
Mississippi State has recorded a 78-22-2 (.775) overall mark in home openers, a 69-19-2 (.778) record against teams from outside the Southeastern Conference.
DOGS NORMALLY START FAST UNDER SHERRILL
Since Jackie Sherrill became head coach at MSU in 1991, the Bulldogs have won 10 of the 12 season and home openers, including six out of seven season openers at home. Overall, Sherrill-led MSU teams are 9-2 vs. non-Southeastern Conference teams in their season openers, 6-2 in home openers against non-SEC opposition.
MISSISSIPPI STATE-OREGON TICKET UPDATE
Tickets still remain for the Mississippi State-Oregon season opener at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (see note below). A crowd in the neighborhood of 45,000 is expected for the MSU-Oregon match-up.
LIMITED SUPPLY OF SEASON TICKETS STILL REMAIN
The Mississippi State Athletic Ticket Office announced this past Friday that it was nearing the number of season tickets sold for the 2003 football season that it had distributed during the record-setting season ticket sales for the '02 campaign. Through the close of business last Thursday, MSU had sold nearly 33,000 season tickets for the '03 season. The ticket office announced that just 900 reduced-price family plan and only a limited number of full-price lower level season tickets remained on sale. Contact the Bryan Athletic Administration ticket office, 662-325-2600 or 1-888-GO-DAWGS, for details.
MISSISSIPPI STATE IS 2-1 IN THE MONTH OF AUGUST
When Mississippi State and Oregon hook up on the gridiron this Saturday, it will mark just the Bulldogs' fourth game ever played in the month of August. State defeated Memphis 13-10 on 8/30/97 and Cal State Fullerton 47-3 on 8/31/91, before losing last August in Oregon.
JACKIE SHERRILL IS THE DEAN OF SEC COACHES
MSU head football coach Jackie Sherrill, now in his 26th season as a collegiate head coach, is beginning his 13th campaign in Starkville. He has now been a head coach longer at Mississippi State than at any of his previous three stops and longer than any former MSU head coach. Now the dean of Southeastern Conference coaches, Sherrill is one of only two league coaches with more than six years of longevity at their current institution.
SHERRILL STANDS 21ST ON ACTIVE LIST
Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill is 21st on the NCAA's list of the nation's winningest active coaches (by percentage), fourth on the active career wins list. Sherrill currently holds a .616 winning percentage in 25 seasons as a collegiate head coach. During his career, Sherrill has compiled a 178-110-4 overall record. On the active wins list, only Joe Paterno (Penn State), Bobby Bowden (Florida State) and Lou Holtz (South Carolina) rank ahead of the Mississippi State head coach.
SHERRILL IS 18TH ON SEC'S ALL-TIME LIST
Mississippi State head football coach Jackie Sherrill's 73 victories at the head of the Bulldog football program has him No. 18 on the Southeastern Conference¹s coach's all-time winning list. Sherrill's 42 SEC-only wins rank 14th in the league.
SMITH KICKS WAY TO MSU RECORDS, ALL-SEC VOTE
Brent Smith (Byhalia, Miss.) burst upon the Mississippi State football scene in 2002, and ended the season not only as one of the school's most prolific place-kickers but as an all-Southeastern Conference selection at his specialty. Smith converted 16-of-20 field goal attempts and all 16 extra-point tries last year after winning the starting job during Week 3.
PK NAMED SECOND-TEAM ALL-LEAGUE AFTER LEADING SEC IN FG PERCENTAGE
Smith was named second-team, all-Southeastern Conference last fall in a vote of the Associated Press sportswriters who cover the league regularly. His 80 percent field goal success ratio in 2002 led all SEC place-kickers.
SMITH HAS TWO OF THE SCHOOL'S SEVEN LONGEST FIELD GOALS
Not only has Smith been an accurate kicker, two of his 16 connections last fall are among the seven longest in school history. His 52-yard boot against LSU (9/28) matched Brian Hazelwood's 52-yarder (Vanderbilt, '98) for the seventh-longest ever. His 53-yard bomb against Tennessee (11/16) was just 1 yard short of the school record (54, Artie Cosby vs. Memphis State, '85). Smith made a 62-yard field goal under scrimmage conditions during '03 two-a-days.
SMITH HAS A STREAK OF KICKING SUCCESSES ON THE LINE
The senior place-kicker has made nine consecutive field goal attempts, dating back to his final three-pointer in State¹s win at Memphis (10/19) last year. In fact, Smith has converted 11 of his last 12 field goal tries, and has not missed a kick under 40 yards.
THE BYHALIA NATIVE IS ALSO ALL-LEAGUE IN THE CLASSROOM
Not only has Smith been a success on the playing field, he has worked for success in the classroom as well. Smith carries a 4.0 grade point average in general business administration and has been named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll for his excellence with the books.
SMITH NAMED TO THE INITIAL WATCH LIST FOR THE GROZA AWARD
Smith has been named to the initial watch list for the Lou 'The Toe' Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented annually by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission and the FedEx Orange Bowl. The 20 semifinalists for the Groza Award will be announced Monday, Nov. 3, and the three finalists on Monday, Nov. 17.
CLARK RETURNS TO DEFENSE AS ALL-SEC CHOICE
Senior defensive end Jason Clark (Starkville, Miss.) seems to have found a home on the Bulldog defense at the end of the line, but that does not mean the talented defender can't play standing up. Clark was named second-team, all-SEC by a vote of the Associated Press sportswriters who regularly cover the league at the defensive end position in 2002 after recording 66 tackles. He will be back at that spot to open this fall, but could make the move if needed to linebacker, where he began his State career.
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. Named to the initial watch list for the Butkus Award, Mawhinney has finished second on the team in tackles for two straight years (93 in '01 and 88 in '02), and has recorded double-digit tackle games 12 times in his 20 starts.
FANT ENTERS '03 EYEING TOP OF PASS CHARTS
Mississippi State senior QB Kevin Fant (Moss Point, Miss.) enters his final season at State with the top of the school's all-time passing lists within his grasp. Fant stands seventh in school history in passing yardage (3,480), pass attempts (515), completions (275), and touchdown passes (19). In addition, his current completion percentage (.534) would rank fourth on the all-time MSU list and his current interception percentage (.0427) would rate fifth.
JENKINS SEEKS SIMILAR JUMP IN RECORD BOOK
Mississippi State senior wide receiver Justin Jenkins (Pearl, Miss.), like Fant, looks to make a vault up the records section in the school's history book in his final season on campus. Jenkins is just one catch from 10th on the school's all-time receiving list (77) and is tied for 10th on the career touchdown chart (8) with Louis Clark (1983-86).
COOK, JONES ALSO NAMED TO AWARD LISTS
MSU junior punter Jared Cook (Columbus, Ga.) and Bulldog senior center Blake Jones (Athens, Ala.) have been named to the Ray Guy and Dave Rimington initial watch lists for the postseason trophies given to the top player at those respective positions. Cook averaged 42.2 yards per punt last fall; Jones has started 18 straight games at center.