After a good start to open the season, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles step up in competition big time this week when they play at Mississippi State on Saturday.
Game time is 2:30 p.m. and the game will be televised by ESPNU.
At first, Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said he wasn’t entirely pleased with his team’s season-opening 38-10 victory over Alcorn State, in which Jaylond Adams returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns.
But after watching game film, he realized the Eagles played fairly well in their first game.
“I was more pleased Sunday morning than I was Saturday night,” Hopson said.
Still, that quality of play won’t be enough to beat Southeastern Conference and Power 5 team Mississippi State, who opened its season last week in New Orleans with a 38-28 victory over Louisiana Lafayette.
“They totally dominated Lafayette up front,” Southern Miss defensive coordinator Tim Billings said.
The players know it, too.
“We’ve got to match their physicality,” nose tackle Demarrio Smith said. “If we don’t, it’s going to be a long night.”
Quarterback Jack Abraham will again lead the Golden Eagles on offense. He connected on 18 of 28 passes for 293 yards against Alcorn State, and had a couple of his passes dropped.
At running back, starter Trivenskey Mosley hurt his leg just 5 1/2 minutes into the Alcorn State game and is not expected to play against the Bulldogs.
“We are kind of a running back by committee right now,” Hopson said.
Steven Anderson, Kevin Perkins, Dee Baker and Jordan Kempf are expected to see action Saturday.
On defense, nickel back DQ Thomas and mike linebacker Racheem Boothe lead the charge for Southern Miss.
Quarterback Tommy Stevens and running back Kylin Hill lead the offense for Mississippi State. Stevens hit 20 of 30 of his passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns while Hill ran 27 times for 197 yards against Louisiana Lafayette.
“They’re a good football team,” Hopson said. “They are physical and talented and we know who we’re going up against. They’re a football team that has our utmost respect.”
Mississippi State second-year coach Joe Moorhead returned the favor in a press conference on Monday.
“They’ll be cranked up to come into Davis-Wade (Stadium) because it’s an in-state and an SEC West opponent,” Moorhead said. “Our guys will be excited about it because it’s against kids they played against in high school. We’re excited because it’s a very good football team. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and a great game.”
Moorhead especially complimented the Southern Miss defense.
“They are a very, very fast and aggressive and salty group,” the MSU coach said. “They have held five of their last seven opponents to under 300 total yards. That’s a pretty darn impressive stat, especially in this day of spread football.”
Southern Miss has played Mississippi State 29 times in football, with their record being 14-14-1.
The last time they played each other was Sept. 5, 2015, at USM, when State won 34-16.
The two teams are on each other’s schedule two more times: Sept. 23, 2023 in Starkville and Aug. 30, 2025 in Hattiesburg.
Southern Miss has lost its last four games to SEC teams.
Southern Miss is 6-9-1 in games played at Mississippi State.