Week 1 Game Preview: SLU @ Mississippi State

On Saturday, September 2nd, the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana University travel to Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The game starts at 3 PM central time and will be broadcast on the SEC Network. The Lions enter the game with just a 3.6 chance of victory, and have an uphill road to climb in order to defeat the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State enters 2023 under first-year head coach Zack Arnett, who served as the Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator for three seasons before the unexpected passing of Mike Leach. Coach Leach was the mastermind behind the Air Raid offense, and with Arnett being a defensive-minded coach, it will certainly be interesting to see how the team adapts to this change. The Bulldogs are coming off a 9-4 season, including a 19-10 victory of Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl, and an Egg Bowl victory over rival Ole Miss.

Will Rodgers will start the season opener for the third straight year. The Senior from Brandon, MS, is approaching 9,000 yards in his career, and threw for just under 4,000 yards in 2022, along with 35 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Jo’Quavious Marks also returns for the Bulldogs at running back. Marks totaled almost 900 total yards and 9 touchdowns in 2022. In fact, almost all of the Bulldogs’ offensive starters are returning. All five starters on the offensive line are in their final year of eligibility and the first four receivers on the depth chart are also experienced at the college level. Mississippi State must go all-in this season before the enviable offensive rebuild in 2024.

On defense for Mississippi State, the team is almost as experienced as the offense. The Bulldogs will have to replace Emmanuel Forbes, a first-round NFL draft pick. Decameron Richardson and Esaias Furdge have big shoes to fill on the outside. The teams two leading tacklers, Nathaniel Watson and Jett Johnson, will also return for one more season and look to form a formattable duo. Up front, the Bulldogs employ a stout line, led by seniors De’Monte Russell and Jordan Davis. The team depth chart only lists one freshman as a starter, that being NT Kalvin Dinkins, who redshirted last season.

The Southeastern section of this article will be kept short. For everything you need to know and for players to watch on Saturday, refer to the season preview article here. Coach Scelfo has not named the starting quarterback for this game yet.

Stay tuned for the post-game recap after the game!