Vanderbilt is riding high after last week’s win against Auburn, and the Commodores are 5-0 for the first time since the World War II era. If they can knock off Mississippi State, they will be bowl eligible and head into a key game against Georgia atop the SEC East. Mississippi State is off to a sluggish start, but a win against the Commodores could turn their season around. For the Bulldogs to obtain a winning record, this is a must-win game.
Chris Nickson’s shoulder injury has opened the door for Mackenzi Adams to regain his spot as the Commodores’ starting quarterback. Adams completed 13 of 23 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Auburn and is expected to start this game. With the return of George Smith to the receiving corps last week, Adams and the passing game should continue to improve. The Commodores didn’t have much success running the ball against Auburn, but Mississippi State ranks 96th in the NCAA in rushing defense. With the Bulldog offense struggling to move the ball, the defense needs to force a few turnovers.
After watching Wesley Carroll struggle through the first four games of this season, Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom made the switch to backup Tyson Lee. The junior played relatively well against LSU and he’ll get another tough test from a solid Vanderbilt secondary. Running back Anthony Dixon has been the workhorse for the Mississippi State offense, but with a struggling passing game, expect the Commodores to focus on stopping him and force Lee to beat them through the air.
Vanderbilt is first in the NCAA in turnover margin and the defense has allowed just 10 points in the second half.
Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson is battling a shoulder injury and is questionable to play in this game.
Mississippi State owns a 10-7-2 edge in the overall series. Vanderbilt won the last meet 31-13 in 2004.
If the Commodores can knock off the Bulldogs, they will have their first 4-0 start in SEC play.