WVU - MSU Game Preview

The fourth-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers look to run their winning streak to 12 games against the struggling Mississippi State Bulldogs.

BlueGoldNews.com Game Scorecard
Series: First Meeting
Sat 10/7 2:30 pm
Starkville, MS

Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field
Record: 3-0
AP Rank: 4th
Last Game
ECU W 27-10

Click for College Park, Maryland Forecast
Record: 1-4
AP Rank: NR
Last Game
LSU L 17-48
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2006 Schedule
First Meeting: 2006
Last Meeting: 2006
Press Release
Season Stats
2006 Schedule

Common Opponents to Date:

None to date


WVU: Damien Crissey - Out (Foot)

MSU: Deljuan Robinson - Out (Knee) , Roland Terry - Out (Back), Brandon Thornton - Questionable (Ankle), Brian Anderson - Probable (Knee), Michael Henig - Probable (Collarbone)

Game Outlook:

WVU offense vs. MSU defense

Game Info
WVU 4-0, 0-0
MSU 1-4, 0-3
Sat 10/7 2:30 p.m. EST
Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field
Series: First Meeting
TV: PPV (WV Only)
Sagarin: WVU-15th, MSU-116th
BCS: WVU-7th, MSU-96th
Line: WVU -28
The Mississippi State defense has been lead by a solid linebacker corps through the first half of the season. Middle linebacker Quinton Culberson (6-0, 234) leads the team with 42 tackles and five pass breakups. The senior has also racked up one sack and 4.5 tackles for loss.

Joining Culberson at linebacker will be Gabe O'Neal (6-1, 220) and Jamar Chaney (6-1, 230). The duo has combined for 48 tackles, three of them for losses, this season. Both O'Neal and Chaney are athletic linebackers with plenty of game experience.

The Bulldog defensive front is also salty, but will be missing their leader as Deljuan Robinson (6-3, 296) will not play due to a knee injury suffered in the LSU loss. Starting in his place will be Antonio Johnson (6-3, 290). Johnson, a more than capable back-up, has recorded 12 tackles and one recovered fumble in limited duty.

Joining Johnson in the trenches will be nose tackle Andrew Powell (6-1, 290) and ends Titus Brown (6-3, 247) and Michael Heard (6-2, 259). Powell, the most experienced of the three, has 12 stops, (two behind the line) while Brown and Heard have combined for 37 tackles, eight TFLs, two sacks and two pass break-ups.

Leading the defensive backfield will be free safety Jermaine Johnson (5-11, 213). Johnson, who was named second-team all-Southeastern Conference in 2005, has totaled 33 tackles, five pass break-ups and three forced fumbles in MSU's first five games.

Teaming with Johnson at safety will be Keith Fitzhugh (5-11, 203). Fitzhugh, a highly-recruited cornerback coming out of high school, has 30 tackles and two pass break-ups this year.

Manning the cornerback positions will be Derek Pegues (5-10, 192) and David Heard (6-0, 192). Pegues, who was ranked as the No. 5 cornerback in the nation as a high school senior by Scout.com, is a speedy DB with good cover skills. The duo has combined for 31 tackles and two pass break-ups on this season, but have made several glaring mistakes which have resulted in long gains for enemy passing attacks.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 8th in total offense (457.00 yds/game), 2nd in rushing offense (299.75 yds/game) and 93rd in passing offense (157.25 yds/game).

MSU is ranked 80th in total defense (349.00 yds/game), 35th in rushing defense (104.60 yds/game) and 116th in passing efficiency defense (160.30 rating).

Advantage: WVU

WVU defense vs. MSU offense

The Bulldog offense is lead into battle by senior quarterback turned wide receiver turned quarterback Omarr Conner (6-0, 220). Conner was moved back to quarterback after starting signal caller Michael Henig went down with a broken collarbone in the first game of the season. Conner, who was strongly recruited by WVU, has completed 57.9% of his passes (44-76) for 568 yards. He has one touchdown and one interception this year. The former Mr. Football in the state of Mississippi is also the team's second leading rusher with 119 yards, and has eight receptions for 80 yards from his time at wideout.

Sharing time at tailback for the Bulldogs will be Arnil Stallworth (5-10, 200) and Anthony Dixon (6-1, 235). Both are true freshmen that have combined for 337 yards and three touchdowns. The duo averages 71.9 yards per contest.

Manning the receiver positions will be Will Prosser (6-3, 205), Tony Burks (6-4, 214) and Lance Long (5-11, 186). Posser and Burks have used their height to good advantage, hauling in a combined 13 receptions for 308 yards and one touchdown. Long leads the team with 17 receptions.

Eric Butler (6-3, 251), the starting tight end, will also give Conner a big target down field. The junior was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman and The Sporting News 2004 Freshman All-SEC teams two seasons ago.

The Mississippi State offensive line has struggled at times this season, allowing 16 quarterback sacks and providing room for only 87.2 yards rushing per game.

Anchoring the line will be right guard Brian Anderson (6-6, 300). The senior is the most experienced Bulldog lineman, having 23 starts under his belt. Teaming with Anderson are J.D. Hamilton (6-4, 290), Michael Gates (6-4, 305), Royce Blackledge (6-4, 293) and Craig Jenkins (6-4, 319). Combined, the foursome has only six starts between them heading into the 2006 campign.

By The Numbers :
WVU is ranked 34th in total defense (289.25 yds/game), 30th in rushing defense (98.25 yds/game) and 9th in passing efficiency defense (95.39).

MSU is ranked 114th in total offense (235.80 yds/game), 101st in rushing offense (87.20 yds/game) and 99th in passing offense (148.60 yds/game).

Advantage: WVU

WVU special teams vs. MSU special teams

Handling the punting chores for the Bulldogs will be Blake McAdams (5-10, 190). McAdams, a sophomore, is an outstanding athlete, starting at quarterback, safety, punter and place-kicker for his high school team in 2004.

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This season McAdams has averaged 39.8 yards on 33 punts, with a long of 59 yards. The Tennessee native has landed eight punts inside the 20-yard line, while seven punts have resulted in fair catches.

Adam Carlson (6-4, 195), the starting placekicker, hasn't had an opportunity to contribute much this season on special teams. Carlson has scored just 12 points this season, going 6-6 on PATs and 2-4 on field goals. Compareatively speaking, WVU's Pat McAfee has 34 points after four games.

Turning double duty on kickoff and punt returns will be Derek Pegues (5-10, 192). Pegues, an explosive return man, has averaged 26.8 yards on kickoffs, good enough to rank him 19th nationally. The sophomore also has gained 150 yards on 12 punt returns, a 12.5 yard average. With these impressive return averages, Pegues actually leads the team in all purpose yards with 88.2 yards per game.

By The Numbers:
WVU is ranked 10th in net punting (40.20 yds/punt), 7th in kick returns (27.73 yds/return) and 92nd in punt returns (6.00 yds/return).

MSU is ranked 62nd in net punting (35.36 yds/punt), 38th in kick returns (21.88 yds/return) and 36th in punt returns (11.07 yds/return)

Advantage: Push

Picks to Click:

On Offense: Pat White

On Defense: Eric Wicks

Totally Useless Facts:

  • The official school mascot is an American Kennel Club registered English Bulldog, given the inherited title of 'Bully'.

  • The Bulldogs have 42 players on its roster from the Magnolia State, 17 from the Yellowhammer State and 16 from the Peach State.

  • Mississippi State is 1-9-1 against the spread in their last 11 games on grass.

  • The Bulldogs are 3-8-1 against the spread in their last 12 games overall.


This game worries me. Maybe it's the fact that WVU is playing a SEC team on its home field. Maybe it's the fact that Mississippi State has talent but hasn't come together as a team yet, or maybe it's just the ringing of those darn cowbells. But something tells me that the Mountaineers may be walking into an ambush.

Don't get me wrong, I'm confident that the Blue and Gold will leave Starkville with a win. I'm just afraid it may be thisclose if WVU fails to get the ground game churning.

My head says WVU by 30, my gut says WVU by seven, my wife says split the difference.

WVU - 28 MSU - 10

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