Bits & Bytes: WVU - Mississippi State

Our pre-game fare of informational items and observations should keep you ready right up until kickoff of the West Virginia - Mississippi State game.


It's time for Darius Reynaud to return to the kickoff return team. If he is healthy enough to play, then he's healthy enough to run back kicks. Reynaud has that innate ability to pick the correct running lane and maximize return yardages, much as Vaughn Rivers does on punt returns. Reynaud is averaging 5.5 more yards per return than his closest competitor.


Mississippi State has piled up a 52-31 scoring advantage in the first quarter this year, but has been outscored in each of the final three periods.
Game Info
WVU 5-1, 1-1
MSU 4-3, 1-3
Sat 10/20/07 3:30 PM
Milan Puskar Stadium
Series: WVU 1-0-0
John Sanders (play-by-play),
Rene Nadeau (analyst),
Line: WVU -23
West Virginia, on the other hand, has outscored its foes in every quarter this year.

The argument can be made, however, that MSU is West Virginia's second toughest foe to date this year, so those numbers could be somewhat misleading.


I know that we may harp on facts like this on occasions, but it's always good to stop and reflect. While many Mountaineer fans are understandably disappointed that West Virginia lost its chance at an undefeated season, they should also realize that WVU is riding a wave of unprecedented success. Let this stat sink in: This is the 33rd consecutive week West Virginia has been nationally ranked, and the Mountaineers have been ranked in the Top 10 in 21 of the last 24 weeks.


While many point to Mississippi State's membership in the SEC as the reason for its less than stellar record over the past few years, the fact is that the Bulldogs haven't been getting it done out of conference either. MSU has won just nine of its last 17 non-conference games since 2003 .

However, the Bulldogs are getting that turned around this year. MSU is 3-0 outside the SEC thus far this season, and is hoping to make it a perfect 4-0 by toppling WVU. The Bulldogs have not gone unbeaten in non-league play since the 2000 campaign, when they were 3-0.


Mississippi State will be the first-ever SEC team to visit Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. South Carolina visited Morgantown in 1991 but that was before the Gamecocks were a member of the SEC.

Kentucky was the last SEC team to visit Morgantown with West Virginia coming away with a 10-6 decision in 1979 at Old Mountaineer Field. Mississippi State will be just the third SEC team to ever come to Morgantown. The first was Vanderbilt, all the way back in 1962.


There are only 10 pages of records in Mississippi State's 208-page media guide, which might lead you to expect that the vast majority of it is fluff. Somehow, the book avoids feeling like an overwrought recruiting tool or a Chamber of Commerce view of Starkville, but there's no doubt that it has departed as far from a conventional media guide as any other publication.
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The cover earns high marks: a simple photo of a gloved hand holding an MUS helmet aloft. Simple and classy, the photo stands out against a plain white background. Also helpful are the section heading, printed vertically down the outside of each page. It makes it much easier to find the desired section of the book.

In an era when the bios and photos of players have gotten smaller, MSU goes in the opposite direction. Many players have at least one page dedicated to them, including cutout photos and boxed stats and graphics. It is nice to see the reason for the game (the players) getting more of the space.

To make room for all this, some things suffer, including the slender stats section and the lack of a list of all-time scores or a 2006 season review. That tends to show MSU is looking ahead, not behind, but the optimism may go a bit far. The back cover lists the SEC Championship game as part of MSU's schedule.

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