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Mississippi State football vs. Abilene Christian: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Bulldogs battle Wildcats

Mark McLaurin #41 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs returns the second of his three interceptions in the game in the fourth quarter of the TaxSlayer Bowl against the Louisville Cardinals at EverBank Field on December 30, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bulldogs won 31-27. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

STARKVILLE, Miss. – It's been a rough year for Mississippi State heading into Saturday evening's homecoming matchup with Abilene Christian of the Southland Conference. The Bulldogs have lost five of their last six after last week's 38-7 drubbing at the hands of No. 5 Alabama and they still need victories in their final two games to have a chance to extend the school record for consecutive bowl appearances to 10.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network Alternate. LINE: None

"We knew against a team of Alabama's caliber we were going to have to come in and play a clean game and execute well," Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead told reporters afterward. "Certainly spotting them a 14-0 lead within the first few minutes didn't help. I thought our kids played hard and competed until the last whistle, but at the end of the day, we didn't coach or play well enough to beat a team like Alabama." The Bulldogs were far more competitive against the top teams in the SEC a year ago, but this season they have lost by at least 21 points to all three of the SEC West division's top teams -- Auburn (56-23), LSU (36-13) and Alabama (38-7). Moorhead says the team hasn't "necessarily (taken) a step back," but one week after rolling up a season-high 640 yards in a win over Arkansas, the Bulldogs managed just 270 yards against Alabama, just three more than their worst outing of the season against Tennessee (267). Abilene Christian's offense hasn't performed any better the last two weeks in home losses to Sam Houston State (24-10) and Southeastern Louisiana (35-14), with the Wildcats getting held below 300 yards in both contests.

ABOUT ABILENE CHRISTIAN (5-6)

Quarterbacks Sema’J Davis and Luke Anthony each threw three interceptions and were sacked four times last week, but the two did combine to pass for 248 yards, the Wildcats’ second-highest passing yardage total in the last seven games. Sophomore receiver Kobe Clark caught six passes for 104 yards in the loss to boost his receptions to 76, moving him into second place in the school record book for single-season receptions behind Ronnie Vinson (82 in 1969). Senior running back Tracy James had his 11-game scoring streak come to an end as the ground game was held to just 35 yards, way below the rushing average entering the game (196.5).

ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-6)

The passing attack couldn’t get anything going against Alabama with Tommy Stevens hitting 12-of-21 passes for just 82 yards, but Stevens, who has rushed for 222 yards all year, led the way with 96 of the team’s 188 yards rushing. Running back Kylin Hill is the only player in the SEC with 1,000 yards rushing (1,062) and at least 10 rushing touchdowns as he scored his 10th against Alabama for the team’s lone score. The Bulldogs, who rank 70th in the country in rushing yards allowed per game (161.7), have held 20 of their last 23 opponents below 200 yards on the ground, tied for third most in the SEC during that time.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Mississippi State has won nine straight homecoming games.

2. Hill has not lost a fumble in 387 career carries.

3. The Bulldogs are tied for third in the SEC with 18 takeaways (seven INTs, 11 fumble recoveries) in 10 games this season.

PREDICTION: Mississippi State 37, Abilene Christian 17