Mississippi State enters its first hostile environment situation of the year this evening as the Bulldogs travel to Troy, Ala. for a 6 p.m. affair with the Trojans.
State enters the contest with a 2-0 record riding high after the 28-10 win over Auburn last Saturday, but the Bulldogs are aware of the history of BCS teams facing the Trojans.
It's been five years since Troy knocked off Oklahoma State at home and eight since the Trojans defeated then No. 17 Missouri. Also the game will mark the first appearance of a Southeastern Conference team in Troy to play the Trojans.
State will be led by the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Week, Tyler Russell who completed 20-of-29 pass attempts for 222 yards.
"A couple years ago, when he came here, that's what's been expected out of him," MSU football coach Dan Mullen said of Russell. "You're in such a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society in the world we live in that they kind of forget that's what was expected out of him. But he, as most guys do, have developed, matured and grown into that position. Now he is ready to perform at the level everybody expected him to be at."
The Bulldogs, who are 2-0 for the first time since 2000, will continue to lean on a veteran group of receivers starting with Chad Bumphis and tight end Marcus Green.
Bumphis has two touchdowns and is averaging 14 yards per catch, while Green is tied for the SEC lead with three scoring grabs.
Last week, the MSU defense very nearly pitched a shutout against the Tigers, allowing just three points on a short field due to a MSU turnover. That fact hasn’t been lost on the Trojans.
"They're salty on defense and their pretty prolific offensively with a quarterback that is coming into his own in Tyler Russell, and a bevy of receivers and players," Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. "The thing that I noticed right off the bat was how well they were coached up front on offense, the size, the mobility, the balance that they use when they come off the ball."
Certainly the Bulldogs are feeling good about how they have played, but they don’t have to look too far to find out what a quality Sunbelt opponent can do if you’re not careful. Arkansas lost to ULM last week 34-31 in overtime to shock the nationally ranked Hogs.
"Some of our older guys understand that those pats in the back can turn into kicks in the rear end real quick," said Mullen.
Troy features an explosive offensive attack led by Corey Robinson who set five Troy records in the game against Louisiana-Lafayette last week. He set the career passing yards, total offense and pass attempts record and the single-game record for completions (46) and yards (485).
On the outside, receiver Chandler Worthy will be a top target after his 54-yard game against ULL. The mark was the 10th best by a receiver this season.
Offsetting the Trojan air attack will be the defensive back trio of Johnthan Banks, Corey Broomfield and Darius Slay, all have been very opportunistic in the first two games this season.
The game will be an internet online broadcast and can be watched on ESPN3.com.