Head to head: Vanderbilt vs. Miss. State

Next up for Vanderbilt is Mississippi State. VandyMania.com compares different critical team areas of Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and indicates which team has the edge.

Mississippi State
Vanderbilt rushing offense
Mississippi State rushing defense
This looks like a Vandy advantage. After the first two games Vanderbilt is averaging 277 rushing yards per contest. However, recently LSU limited Vandy to just 122 yards rushing. Freshman tailback Zac Stacy has 225 yards total rushing in his first two games and had 89 at LSU. Mississippi State has held their first two opponents to an average of 226 yards rushing a game, however, against Auburn on Saturday they allowed 390 yards rushing. Junior linebacker K.J. Wright is the Bulldogs' top run stopper. He has nine total tackles (8 against Auburn) in MSU's first two games. Vanderbilt should be able to gain 200 yards rushing on Saturday against MSU but we can't discount the loss of OT James Williams who is supposed to be a great run blocker.  
Vanderbilt passing offense
Mississippi State passing defense
This area should be a Bulldog advantage. Mississippi State statistically has a solid passing defense giving up about 165 yards a game. However, some of the passing defense success could be that opponents such as Auburn see no need to pass because running works so well. The fact is though, although Larry Smith is solid, the Vanderbilt passing game is back at it's normal position: the bottom of the NCAA at 138 yards a game.  
Mississippi State rushing offense
Vanderbilt rushing defense
This area rates even. Mississippi State averages 202 yards per game rushing. They rushed for 167 against Auburn and 238 in their opener versus Jackson State. Their starting running back is Anthony Dixon who rushed for 92 yards against Auburn. Vanderbilt is holding opponents to 109 yards per game rushing, on average, but gave up 178 at LSU. Linebackers Patrick Benoist and Chris Marve pace the Commodore run defense.  
Mississippi State passing offense
Vanderbilt passing defense
Vandy edge here. MSU is 103rd nationally in passing offense, averaging 151 yards per game which is almost as poor as the Vandy passing offense. State will start either senior Tyson Lee or sophomore Chris Relf against Vandy. My bet: Tyson Lee because he played well against the Commodores last year in Starkville. Neither Lee nor Relf managed more than 80 yards passing against Auburn. Vanderbilt passing defense is rated eighth nationally and gives up just 111 yards per game. Vanderbilt is also 20th nationally in pass efficiency defense. Myron Lewis is one of the top NFL cornerback prospects in the nation. One concern is that Vanderbilt has lost the services of veteran starting safety Ryan Hamilton who suffered a chest injury during the LSU game. Either Joel Caldwell or Brent Trice will start in his place.  
Special Teams
MSU edge here. Sean Brauchle has made two of four field goals from MSU. Bulldog punter Heath Hutchins is ranked 8th nationally in punting and second in net punting (45.38). Again, Vanderbilt is far less than spectacular on special teams. Vandy did not attempt a field goal against LSU, even though the Commodores got to the LSU 33-yard-line. Vandy's is next to last in the NCAA in net punting at a very poor 23.77.  
Dan Mullen is in his first year as a head coach at Mississippi State. He came to MSU from Florida where he was the offensive coordinator. Bobby Johnson has 16 years of head coaching experience under his belt.  
It's a Vanderbilt home game but SEC opponents playing at Vandy have done well over the years. Mississippi State will bring a good number of fans and help fire their team up. Both teams are coming off of similar lackluster performances against "Tiger" teams. While Vanderbilt experienced offensive failures, it was MSU's defense that didn't show up for them.  

PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 21 Mississippi State 17

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