KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead told reporters he knows who will start at quarterback when the Bulldogs visit Tennessee on Saturday in an SEC game, but isn't sharing that knowledge publicly. Tommy Stevens, a senior, and freshman Garrett Shrader are expected to play but how they are utilized remains to be seen as the Bulldogs try to bounce back from a 56-23 loss to No. 12 Auburn on Sept. 28.
TV: Noon ET, SEC Network. LINE: Mississippi State -7
"We have a starter in mind right now," Moorhead told reporters "That doesn't preclude both from playing, either in separate series or both playing at the same time, either. We have a plan for one to start, one to play and then possibly (for) two to play at the same time, so (we) cover all the bases." Tennessee is in a similar position but it appears coach Jeremy Pruitt will hand the keys to freshman Brian Maurer, who threw two touchdown passes in a 43-14 loss to No. 3 Georgia last week. "I think he would really have to have a bad week of practice not to (start on Saturday), but we'll see how the week goes," Pruitt told the media. Bulldogs junior running back Kylin Hill has rushed for an SEC-most 596 yards (12th nationally) and faces a Volunteers defense that yields 167.4 yards per game on the ground - third-worst in the conference.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (3-2, 1-1 SEC)
Stevens (63.8 percent completion rate on 58 attempts, five touchdowns, two interceptions) enjoys a statistical advantage over Shrader (58.8 percent, 68 attempts, two TDs, one INT). Junior wide receiver Osirus Mitchell boasts four TD receptions - all 20 yards or longer - and also leads the team in catches (19) and yards (277). Senior defensive end Chauncey Rivers has 10 pressures this season - seven quarterback hurries, two QB hits and one sack.
ABOUT TENNESSEE (1-4, 0-2)
Senior wide receiver Jauan Jennings leads the club in receptions (26), yards (395) and touchdowns (five) after catching seven passes for 114 yards and a score last week. Mauer also tossed a 73-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver Marquez Callaway as the Volunteers led Georgia 14-13 before completing only 4-of-11 passes in the second half. Freshman linebacker Henry To'o To'o (32 tackles) has a team-most 2.5 tackles for loss with a fumble recovery, three quarterback hurries and a pass breakup.
1. The Bulldogs have recorded a takeaway in 21 straight games - the longest active streak in the nation.
2. Tennessee defeated Auburn 30-24 last season and is trying for back-to-back wins over an SEC West opponent for the first time since 2007-08.
3. Hill, who has four 100-yard rushing games this season, also leads the SEC in yards after contact with 344.
PREDICTION: Mississippi State 31, Tennessee 23