Mississippi State and interim coach Greg Knox host Southern Miss, aiming to halt 3-game slide
Thu, Nov 16, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)
Southern Miss (3-7) at Mississippi State (4-6), Saturday, Noon ET (SEC+)
Line: Mississippi State by 14 1/2, according to FanDuel.com Sportsbook.
Series: Mississippi State leads 15-14-1.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Southern Miss seeks its third consecutive victory. Greg Knox begins a second stint as Mississippi State interim coach after the school fired Zach Arnett on Monday following a 4-6 start. The Bulldogs aim to halt a three-game slide and possibly become bowl eligible over the final two games. The teams are meeting for the first time since 2019.
It's unknown whether record-setting Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers will return from a shoulder injury, freshman Chris Parson makes his second consecutive career start or Mike Wright calls signals. The goal is reviving an offense that has combined for just 455 yards the past two weeks. There's an opportunity against the Sun Belt Conference Golden Eagles, who are allowing 424 yards and 35.3 points per game. On the other hand, they've won consecutive games by holding ULM to just 260 total yards and Louisiana to 130 rushing.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Southern Miss quarterback Billy Wiles and running back Frank Gore Jr. have been a strong offensive combination. Gore rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns on a career-best 33 carries last week against Louisiana. He also caught a touchdown pass. Gore has 970 yards rushing and nine TDs. Wiles has completed 54% of his passes for 1,851 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions while starting every game.
Mississippi State linebackers Jett Johnson and Nathaniel Watson remain the SEC's top tacklers with 99 and 95 stops, respectively. They are two of just three conference players with 90-plus stops and are close to making history as the only ones to finish 1-2 in tackles in consecutive seasons.
FACTS AND FIGURES
The Bulldogs have won the past five series meetings. ... USM seeks its first win against the SEC since beating Kentucky 44-35 in the 2016 opener. ... Wiles needs 149 yards to become USM's 17th 2,000-yard passer. ... Knox previously guided MSU to a 2017 Music City Bowl win over Louisville after Dan Mullen left for Florida. ... Zavion Thomas returned the opening kickoff for a 94-yard touchdown at Texas A&M, his first career TD return. ... The Bulldogs' Tolu Griffin has at least one reception in 30 consecutive contests and at least two catches over the past 16. ___ Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here ___ AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football"