Mississippi State

Bulldogs look to maintain intensity as Air Raid comes to Davis-Wade

Though the excitement of the win over defending national champions LSU has not worn off for the fans, the Mississippi State football team has had to move on in preparation for Saturday’s matchup with Arkansas (0-1).

Bulldog Coach Mike Leach gave them 24 hours to enjoy the win. “Let it go after 24 hours… and then constantly reinforce it,” Leach said at Monday’s press conference. He talked about the team leaders reinforcing the upcoming contest and putting the last game behind them.

It is a hard thing the coach is asking of the players because most of the country and national media is still in awe that unranked Mississippi State (1-0) took down the No. 6 team in the nation. After receiving votes for the poll last week, the Bulldogs rose to the No. 16 spot in the Associated Press poll and 15 in the Coaches’ poll.

The Bulldog debuted Leach’s Air Raid offense and saw quarterback K. J. Costello break an SEC throwing record of 623 yards. Three receivers hauled in over 100-yards each. Running back Kylin Hill broke a record for reception yards by a running back with 158. 

The receiving corps is being hailed as just the second trio to in school history to go over 100 receiving yards in the same game, with Osirus Mitchell (183), Hill (158) and JaVonta Payton (122) achieving it in their initial game of the 2020 season.

These players along with their teammates will take on a hungry Arkansas Razorback team who lost to Georgia 37-10. In the first quarter, Arkansas had a 7-0 lead before they gave up a safety at the beginning of the second quarter, but they maintained their compsoure throughout the first half.

Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman also had his debut with the Razorbacks. Pittman said in his press conference the Razorback young secondary is expected to have their hands full with the prolific Bulldog receivers. Arkansas was holding its own with Georgia redshirt quarterback D’Wan Mathis and Georgia head coach Kirby Smart made a change.

Georgia replacement quarterback Stetson Bennett entered the game with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. Arkansas led by 5 at halftime and then ceded 32 unanswered points to the Bulldogs in the second half.

Razorbacks are led by quarterback Felipe Franks, who is a graduate transfer from Florida. He started 2019 in three games for Florida before being benched by injury the remainder of the season.

Arkansas starts a quartet of dangerous weapons in senior running back Rakeem Boyd, junior wide receiver Mike Woods and sophomore wide receivers Treylon Burks and Trey Knox. They combined for 2,967 all-purpose yards in 2019.

The Razorbacks have not won a SEC game since Oct. 2017. That might prove a problem in this SEC-only 10-game season for the conference due to COVID-19 concerns.

Kickoff for this matchup is Saturday, Oct. 3 in Davis-Wade Stadium in Starkville at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network. These two teams are said to have the toughest schedules in the nation, according to football power index (FPI) preseason ranking. Arkansas has the toughest and MSU has second toughest schedule.

Note: Myra Bean is an alumna of Mississippi State University and former newspaper sports editor. For tips or story ideas, contact her at myrabean8286@gmail.com.

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