UT Martin Skyhawks (5-5, 4-3 OVC) at #1 Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0 SEC)
Saturday, Nov. 8 • 3:00 p.m. CT
Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (61,337) • Starkville, Miss.
TV: SEC Network
Series Record: Mississippi State leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Mississippi State won 55-17 (11/5/11)
UT Martin Last Week: W, 62-38 at Murray State
Mississippi State Last Week: W, 17-10 vs. Arkansas
GAME NOTES: UT Martin will travel to the No. 1 ranked team in the Football Bowl Subdivision for a Saturday matchup. The game with Mississippi State is the second of the year against a FBS opponent for the Skyhawks, who opened the season at Kentucky. It is the second all-time meeting between the schools who also played in the 2011 season. In that matchup the Bulldogs led 21-0 after one quarter on a way to a 55-17 victory. Jason McNair led UTM with 122 rushing yards in that game while Derek Carr was 19-of-31 for 167 yards. MSU was led by Vick Ballard who rushed for 102 yards and two scores while Tyler Russell passed for 183 yards and a touchdown. UT Martin is 1-17 all-time against FBS opponents with its lone win coming at Memphis in the 2012 season. UTM head coach Jason Simpson played two seasons of football (and baseball) at Mississippi State before transferring to Southern Miss. Saturday marks the annual Homecoming game for Mississippi State.
SCOUTING UT MARTIN: After losing five of its first six games of the season UT Martin has recovered to win its last four contests (its first four-game winning streak since 2012) to even its record at 5-5 on the season. The team is also guaranteed to finish at least .500 in OVC play for the ninth-straight season (all under head coach Jason Simpson); prior to Simpson’s arrival the team had just three seasons of .500 or better in the OVC from 1992-2005.
The Skyhawks jumped out early on rival Murray State on its way to a 62-38 victory on Saturday. UTM rolled up 595 yards of total offense led by senior running back Abou Toure who carried the ball 29 times for 234 yards (8.1 ypc) and three touchdowns. The 234 yards are the 10th-most by a FCS player this season and marked the first UTM player to go over the 200-yard mark since the 2008 season (Brandyn Young). Toure now ranks third in the OVC and 39th nationally in rushing (88.6 yards/game). Quarterback Jarod Neal completed 13-of-20 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for a score. Neal ranks ninth nationally in completion percentage (66.4%) and 15th in passing efficiency (146.8).
Junior kicker Jackson Redditt made a career-long 52-yard field goal in the game.
SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE: Mississippi State is one of three FBS teams currently undefeated on the season and have been impressive this season in going from unranked to No. 1 in the country. The Bulldogs beat No. 8 LSU, No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 2 Auburn in back-to-back-to-back weeks and have won 11 games overall dating back to last season (the second-longest winning streak in school history). The team’s 8-0 start is its first since the 1999 season.
Last week against Arkansas the Bulldogs fell behind 10-0 before not allowing a second half point in coming from behind to win 17-10. The final touchdown came when Heisman candidate Dak Prescott connected with Fred Ross for a 69-yard score with 13:21 to play. Prescott finished the day 18-of-27 for 331 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 61 yards. On the season Prescott has completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,205 yards and 16 touchdowns while also rushing for 725 yards and another 10 scores. Prescott has tied the MSU single-season record for touchdowns responsible for (26) in only eight games. Prescott’s play has helped the offense already break the school record for points (316) and total yards (4,179) for a season in just eight games.