Looking Back; Looking Ahead; Plus, Links

This week’s game: vs. Houston (3-1), 6:35 p.m., ESPNU (announcers: Eric Collins play-by-play, Brock Huard color), ESPN360.com, XM Channel 244, Sirius Channel 220.

In this morning’s MSU notebook, I cover several topics, most of which were covered to some degree on here yesterday. One topic was finding an early offensive rhythm, which will be especially crucial this week against a high-octane Houston squad. This game could well turn into a shootout, which doesn’t bother RB Arnil Stallworth.

“We’ve been working hard since the offseason for games like this,” he said. “Coach (Dan) Mullen, he always talks about fighting, fighting, fighting, never giving up until there are four zeros on the clock, and that’s what we’ve been doing lately. If it’s a shootout, I’m pretty sure we’ll come out on top.”

One key for State will be the continued growth and contributions of freshman WR Chad Bumphis, with whom I spoke yesterday after practice. I’ll have a story tomorrow that examines his progress and also looks at senior Brandon McRae, who’s gotten off to a slow start. Bumphis had six catches for 123 yards and scored two touchdowns against Georgia Tech last week. Mullen said the Tupelo product has “made some big plays, but he also was much better fundamentally, in route-running, some mistakes he’d made in the prior week he corrected and ran better routes. As a result, he was open instead of covered on the same play he’d run the week before.”

Also coming this week is a column for Thursday, a closer look at Houston’s offense on Friday, and of course GameDay stuff Saturday. Speaking of Houston’s offense, I’m going to try and listen in on QB Case Keenum‘s teleconference this afternoon. Now, let’s hit the links.

• UTEP tailback Donald Buckram, who rushed for a career-high 262 yards in his team’s 58-41 defeat of Houston, was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week.

• Keenum won some sort of national recognition for his performance in the loss.

• On a basketball note, Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com ranks MSU 26th in his final preseason rankings.