Mississippi State football is hitting the road for the first time in 2021 as the Bulldogs travel to Memphis to take on the Tigers in Liberty Bowl Stadium on Saturday.
Both teams come into the matchup with perfect records, something that will change for one program by the end of the weekend. The Bulldogs dominate the all-time series, currently on a 12-game winning streak against the Tigers.
Obviously, a lot has changed since 2011, the last time the two teams clashed. Here's a look into what both programs bring to the table and what to expect as MSU looks to tack on a 13th consecutive win against Memphis:
The Bulldogs' first win of the season came down to the wire, as the team came away with a 35-34 victory over LA Tech. The team played poorly on all sides of the ball, then seemed to all rise together to complete the biggest comeback in school history, showing just how explosive and cohesive the team could be at its best.
MSU looked far more steady and consistent in its second victory -- a 24-10 win over an NC State team that is one of the best programs in its conference. On special teams, wide receiver Lideatrick "Tulu" Griffin gave State an advantage from the beginning, returning the opening kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown. The Bulldogs defense was effective in holding a team that rushed for nearly 300 yards the previous week to just 32 yards on the ground, not allowing a single touchdown until the fourth quarter.
There's still room for improvement, but the offense was effective and came up with some big plays against the Wolfpack, including a 21-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Malik Heath just over one minute before halftime to extend MSU's least to 14-3.
Quarterback Will Rogers finished the game 33-of-49 passing for 294 yards with two touchdowns, appearing more settled and more controlled overall than he did the previous week.
The Tigers come off of a 55-50 win over Arkansas State, aiming to record another victory at home. Memphis has done a good job taking care of the football offensively, without committing an interception over the first two games.
MSU defensive coordinator Zach Arnett noted earlier this week that freshman quarterback Seth Henigan didn't look like a freshman, which is a pretty accurate statement -- Henigan turned in a standout performance against the Red Wolves, completing 22-of-33 passes for 417 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Memphis also has the ability to really get things going on the ground, combining for 263 rushing yards with three rushing touchdowns last week.
On defense, the Tigers have appeared to run out of gas at times and hardly generate any real pass rush. The secondary hasn't exactly given opposing quarterbacks a world of issues either, with just one interception across the entire defense through the first two weeks.
Final Score: 40-24, MSU. Memphis' defense simply won't be strong enough against the pass, and that's a pretty terrible weakness to have going up against the Air Raid. If the Bulldogs grab the momentum early on in this one and can maintain consistency throughout, this is a game that can be won by a comfortable margin.