GAME: 12:21 p.m., Saturday, SEC Network
RECORD: 4-3 (1-2 SEC)
SERIES: USC leads 8-6
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LAST YEAR: The teams haven’t played since the 2011 season in Starkville, Miss., where USC wide receiver Alshon Jeffery caught a four-yard pass from quarterback Connor Shaw for the game-winning touchdown with 3:50 remaining in a 14-12 comeback win over Mississippi State. The Gamecocks trailed 10-7 before the 12-play, 79-yard scoring drive capped by Jeffery’s leaping reception. Safety D.J. Swearinger made the game-clinching interception in a contest that saw tailback Marcus Lattimore leave in the fourth quarter with a season-ending knee injury.
COACH: Dan Mullen. In his fifth season at Mississippi State, Mullen has compiled a 33-25 record, which already places him third on the program’s all-time lists for wins. He has taken the Bulldogs to three consecutive bowl games, two of them ending with victories over Michigan and Wake Forest.
QUICK TAKE: Behind the play of receiver Jameon Lewis and quarterback Dak Prescott and a late defensive stand, the Bulldogs got their first SEC win of the season by beating Kentucky 28-22 in Starkville last Thursday. Their two conference losses have come at the hands of Auburn (24-20) and LSU (59-26). USC has no margin for error and must get past the Bulldogs, who have lost six straight games to the Gamecocks dating back to 2000, to stay in the SEC East title race.
DOG TREATS: The Bulldogs have won four-straight contests versus SEC East opponents (2011/Kentucky, 2012/Tennessee and Kentucky, 2013/Kentucky). Mullen has compiled a 9-3 record against teams from the East. The Bulldogs are 32-1 under Mullen when leading after three quarters. MSU has rushed for 18 touchdowns in seven games. The Bulldogs are averaging 30 points on 456 yards of total offense per game. MSU has outscored teams 163-79 in the first half this season. The Bulldogs have lost only one fumble all season.
BULLDOGS TO WATCH
QB DAK PRESCOTT: The sophomore has completed 86-of-150 passes for 1,158 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for a team-high 490 yards and eight touchdowns.
WR JAMEON LEWIS: The junior has pulled in 30 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns. In the Kentucky win, he caught a touchdown pass, threw a touchdown pass, and rushed for a score.
LB DEONTAE SKINNER: The senior has started 31 straight games, and this season has 45 tackles, 3.5 for loss, with one sack and one interception.
OL GABE JACKSON: The senior left guard, who’s 6-foot-4 and 335 pounds, has started every game of his career and ranks as one of the top offensive linemen in the nation.
- Compiled by Neil White