Mississippi State will not be seen on live television for just the fourth time in the last 15 games, dating back to Week 10 of the 2000 season. MSU appeared on a network or national cable telecast eight times in 11 games a year ago.
HOME FIELD HAS BEEN GOOD TO THE BULLDOGS
Mississippi State has posted a 77-22-2 (.772) overall record in home openers since the school began playing football in 1895. The Bulldogs are an even more impressive 68-19-2 (.775) in home openers against non-conference opposition. State has won its last five home openers and is 9-2 in its first game at Scott Field since Jackie Sherrill became the school's head coach in 1991.
MSU HOSTS FIRST DIVISION I-AA TEAM IN 4 YEARS
When Jacksonville State visits Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field this weekend, it will be Mississippi State's first game against an NCAA Division I-AA member since 1998 when East Tennessee State came to Starkville. The Bulldogs won that game 53-6.
BULLDOGS SOLID VS. NON-SEC SCHOOLS
Mississippi State has posted a 147-108-10 (.574) record all-time against teams that are not members of the Southeastern Conference, an impressive 26-8-1 (.757) mark in regular-season, non-conference games since Jackie Sherrill assumed the head coaching reins in 1991. MSU has won nine of its last 12 games against non-conference competition, and 10 of its last dozen home non-league games.
SHERRILL'S MSU TEAMS BOUNCE BACK WELL
Since becoming Mississippi State's head football coach in 1991, Jackie Sherrill¹s teams have responded well following a loss. Sherrill-coached Bulldog squads are 27-21-1 (.571) after a setback.
MSU PROSPERS AFTER OPEN DATE UNDER SHERRILL
Mississippi State has posted a 17-10 (.630) overall record following an open weekend during the Sherrill era.
MSU's 23-18 SEC MARK IS WEST'S BEST
Mississippi State has recorded a 23-18 win-loss ratio against Southeastern Conference foes during the past five seasons, the best mark against league foes by anyone in the SEC's Western Division. State's league slate over that period is better than Alabama (21-20), the only other West team with a winning mark against the league. Auburn and LSU are 20-21, while Arkansas and Mississippi (19-22) round out the West. Only Florida and Tennessee (34-7), and Georgia (27-14) lead MSU. USC is 14-27, Kentucky is 11-30, and Vanderbilt is 4-37.
MISSISSIPPI STATE-JSU TICKET UPDATE
A crowd in excess of 45,000 is expected for Mississippi State's home-opening contest with Jacksonville State. MSU announced in early September that it had sold 37,761 season tickets for the 2002 campaign, a school record. That figure is more than 1,200 season tickets ahead of last year's record total, with an increase of over 200 full-price season tickets from 2001. A limited number of season tickets still remain available. Contact the Bryan Athletic Administration ticket office, 662-325-2600 or 1-888-GO-DAWGS, for details.
STATE OFFERS YOUTH TICKETS FOR JSU GAME
The Mississippi State athletic ticket office announced this past weekend that it would offer a limited number of discounted tickets for youths to the home opener against Jacksonville State. Youth tickets are priced at $10 for anyone 17 years old or younger. Tickets are available at the Bryan Athletic Administration Building ticket office, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and at the stadium box office on game day.
BULLDOG LB COACH WORKED ONE SEASON AT JSU
Mississippi State assistant head coach and linebacker instructor Jim Tompkins was the defensive coordinator at Jacksonville State University in 1983.
HAGGAN OPENS '02 WITH ALL-AMERICA OUTING
Senior inside linebacker Mario Haggan (Clarksdale, Miss.) showed that a return to the inside linebacker position on State's defense this season would produce all-America-type numbers. Haggan opened the season with 17 tackles at Oregon, easily the best defensive numbers on the field. In addition to his double-digit tackle performance, he also forced one fumble, which was recovered by the Bulldogs. In 2001, Haggan split time between defensive end and linebacker, and despite the adjustment, still led the team in tackles (95 in 10 games played). He made 72 tackles in the season's final seven weeks, the last six back home at his inside linebacker position. During those last seven games, he totaled 11 tackles for loss (minus 50 yards), of which three were quarterback sacks (minus 27 yards). Overall, Haggan has produced 14 double-digit tackle games in 21 career starts, including seven in the last eight games dating back to last fall.
HAGGAN NEEDS 62 TACKLES TO MOVE ONTO SCHOOL'S CAREER TOP 10
With 257 career tackles, Haggan requires just 62 more stops to move among Mississippi State's top 10 career tacklers. Rusty Martin (1977-80) currently occupies 10th place with 318 career tackles.
HAGGAN NAMED TO BUTKUS, LOMBARDI AND NAGURSKI AWARD LISTS
Haggan has been named to the initial Butkus and Lombardi Award lists for 2002, the third-straight year he has been mentioned among the top linebackers and linemen in the country, respectively. He has also been listed on the first Bronko Nagurski Award watch, an honor given to the nation's Defensive Player of the Year.
MORGAN CONTINUES BIG-PLAY STYLE AT OREGON
Senior free safety Josh Morgan (Vicksburg, Miss.) has been a steadying influence on the Mississippi State secondary for three years, a trait which belies his big-playmaking ability. Morgan continued that type of play in State's season-opener at Oregon, recording eight tackles, a pass deflection and one fumble recovery. Like Haggan, he has produced more than 200 career tackles (213), including 12 for loss (minus 50 yards). He has now recovered five fumbles during his career, totaling 120 yards in returns and two touchdowns. He has also made five pass interceptions.
MORGAN REACHED ALL-STAR STATUS FOLLOWING SOLID JUNIOR CAMPAIGN
Morgan was named first-team, all-Southeastern Conference by the Football News and was a second-team selection by the Associated Press following a junior season in which he made 79 tackles, five for loss (minus 10 yards), two fumble recoveries, nine pass deflections and three interceptions.
MAWHINNEY'S 10 HITS ADD TO HIS TACKLE TOTAL
Like Haggan, junior inside linebacker T.J. Mawhinney (Madisonville, La.) is another Bulldog who piles up tackles. Mawhinney opened the season with 10 tackles at Oregon, his seventh-straight double digit tackle outing, dating back to last year. Mawhinney, who started eight of the 11 games played a year ago, tallied 68 tackles in the season's final six weeks (11.3 per game) after returning from an early season arm injury. He recorded six straight double-digit tackle games during that stretch and now has eight for his career.
FANT RETURNS TO BULLDOG ATTACK
Mississippi State junior quarterback Kevin Fant (Moss Point, Miss.) returns to his starting role with the Bulldog offense after missing State's season opener with Oregon. Fant looks to pick up in 2002 where he left off at the end of '01. He completed 34-of-49 passes (.694) for 609 yards, four touchdowns and just one interception, in the final two games last fall. In fact, when he began to receive substantial playing time under center at midseason, he completed 74-of-119 passes (.622) for 1,096 yards, all eight of his seasonal touchdowns and only four interceptions. His 155.01 passing rating over that time span, if accomplished over the entire season, would have ranked second in the league behind only Rex Grossman of Florida.
UNDERSTUDY YORK STEADY IN RELIEF
In Fant's absence at Oregon, redshirt freshman Kyle York (Spring, Texas) earned his first collegiate start. He became the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Bulldogs since Wayne Madkin did so at South Carolina in 1998. York was the first freshman to start under center in a Bulldog opener since Albert Williams took the first snap in State's 1987 lidlifter against Southwestern Louisiana. York completed 18-of-37 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. He threw his first career touchdown pass to freshman Brandon Wright (Memphis, Tenn.) in the fourth period.
WALKER MOVES UP BULLDOG RUSH, TD CHARTS
Mississippi State senior tailback Dontae Walker (Clinton, Miss.) is already ranked on the school's all-time rushing and scoring lists, and with a solid final campaign, could finish atop both career lists. Walker is 12th on MSU's career rushing list with 1,735 yards. He needs just 131 yards to reach the school's all-time top 10 in that category. With one scoring run at Oregon in the season opener, Walker passed Dicenzo Miller (1998-01) on the rushing touchdown list and is now tied for ninth all-time with Dennis Johnson (1974-77) with 18 scores on the ground. He needs one rushing TD to move into an eighth-place tie with Shorty McWilliams (19; 1944, 46-48).
GRINDLE ALSO RISES IN MSU'S CAREER RANKINGS
Mississippi State senior split end Terrell Grindle (Hattiesburg, Miss.) hauled in three passes at Oregon two weeks ago and moved to sixth on State¹s all-time receiving list with 88 career catches. He surpassed Fred Hadley (1984, 86-88) for the No. 6 spot, and needs just 22 yards receiving to reach the school's top 10 in that category.
BANKS HAS SOLID SEASON OPENER VS. DUCKS
Mississippi State senior cornerback Korey Banks (Boynton Beach, Fla.) opened the 2002 with a solid outing against Oregon. Banks was credited with five tackles, including one for a loss (minus 1 yard) and two pass deflections against the Ducks. Matched up most of the day with Oregon wide receiver Keenan Howry, he limited the all-America to just two catches for 2 yards. The UO game was a natural progression for Banks, who finished the '01 season in a strong way. He intercepted two Eli Manning passes in Week 10 and added another theft against Brigham Young in the season-ender.
COOK STARTS WITH BANG, SET TO KICK UP AVERAGE
Mississippi State sophomore punter Jared Cook (Columbus, Ga.) averaged a respectable 40.7 yards per punt during the 2001 season, but he served notice that his punting numbers might well improve during the '02 campaign. Cook kicked eight times at Oregon two weeks ago, averaging 42.8 yards per boot. He had a game-long, 58-yarder against the Ducks.
65 BULLDOGS PLAY AT OREGON, 14 ARE FROSH
Mississippi State played 65 Bulldogs at Oregon in its season opener, including 14 redshirt and true freshmen. The nine true freshmen who played at Eugene, Ore., are believed to be the most yearlings ever to play in a season-opening game for MSU in the Jackie Sherrill era, although records from the early 1990s are incomplete.