Mississippi State hosts Samford, looks to end 3-game skid

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State has managed to lose games in all kinds of creative ways this season.

The Bulldogs lost one game in double overtime and another because a 28-yard game-winning field goal bounced off the left upright as time expired. Then there was last week's loss to Kentucky, which ended with the Wildcats booting a 51-yard field goal to win in the final seconds.

Bad football and bad luck: It's been a tough combo for the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State (2-5) has seen its share of both in a season that's quickly become a huge disappointment. The Bulldogs will try end their three-game losing streak when they face lower-level opponent Samford (6-1) on Saturday.

Mississippi State linebacker Richie Brown said the team isn't making excuses for some unfortunate bounces at the end of games.

''I guess you can say it's a little bit of luck, but not really,'' Brown said. ''You've got to out and make that one extra play in those games. It's on us. We're taking responsibility for that.''

Mississippi State hopes a win against Samford could provide some much-needed momentum. The Bulldogs have a brutal November schedule with games against Alabama, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Mississippi.

But Saturday's game won't necessarily be easy. Samford is the No. 19 team in the country at the Football Championship Subdivision level and has won four straight.

''They're the best FCS team I've seen in quite a while, so it's a great challenge for our guys,'' Mullen said. ''We're going to have to come out and execute and play at a very high level.''

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Some other things to watch when Mississippi State hosts Samford:

SUCCESS VS. FCS: Mississippi State has a 7-0 record against opponents in the FCS during coach Dan Mullen's tenure, outscoring them by a combined 363-85 margin. The Bulldogs have an 11-game winning streak against FCS teams - the last loss was in 2004 against Maine.

LEWIS STARS FOR MSU: One bright spot for Mississippi State this season is the play of freshman linebacker Leo Lewis, who leads all SEC freshmen with 48 tackles. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Lewis had a career-high 12 tackles against BYU two weeks ago.

RUNS LIKE A DEAR: Mississippi State sophomore Malik Dear had a breakout game against Kentucky, running for a career-high 77 yards against the Wildcats, including a 45-yard touchdown run. The 5-foot-9, 220-pounder figures to be a bigger part of the Mississippi State offense in the final five weeks of the season.

SURGING SAMFORD: Samford is off to a 6-1 start, which is its best record through seven games since 1992, when the Bulldogs were also 6-1. Samford finished the '92 season with a 9-2 record and made the FCS playoffs.

SAMFORD VS. THE SEC: The Bulldogs haven't had much success against the SEC with a 2-75-3 record. The good news is one of Samford's two wins is against Mississippi State - but it came back in 1909.

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Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP .

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More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org .

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