Scouting report: Bowling Green at MSU

Ryland Ward has the only interception this season for Bowling Green, which is plus-3 in turnover margin thanks to six recovered fumbles. (AP Photo/Sentinel-Tribune, Shane Hughes)

Ryland Ward has the only interception this season for Bowling Green, which is plus-3 in turnover margin thanks to six recovered fumbles. (AP Photo/Sentinel-Tribune, Shane Hughes)

KEYS FOR VICTORY

1. Start strong and maintain

Mississippi State surrendered 31 unanswered points to LSU including four fourth quarter touchdowns. The Bulldogs need to get that monkey off their backs and start off on a strong note tonight.

Against LSU, the Bulldogs began well rolling up 274 yards of offense and put up 23 points in the first half but added only a field goal in the second while committing two turnovers.

MSU has outscored its opponents 121-56 in the first half but have been blown out in the fourth quarter 49-17 this season.

2. End zone for Perkins

Senior running back LaDarius Perkins has yet to score a touchdown this season for the Bulldogs. Perkins missed the Alcorn State game with an ankle sprain but has not crossed the goal line through four games of action this fall.

The 5-foot-10, 195-pounder was second on the team in 2012 with 10 touchdowns and was the leading returning scorer. Perkins has 20 career scores and is four shy of entering the school’s top 10 list for touchdowns in a career.

3. Prevent the pass

Last week LSU’s Zach Mettenberger carved through the Bulldogs secondary completing 25 of 29 passing for 340 yards and two touchdowns and an interception. Two of the Tigers receivers – Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry – combined for 17 catches for 275 yards and two scores.

State’s secondary is inexperienced and injury-riddled but have to grow up fast before allowing huge passing numbers becomes a trend.

WHAT TO WATCH

When MSU has the ball

Head coach Dan Mullen was once again able to manage two quarterbacks in a contest. Dak Prescott started strong and made plays with his feet but struggled late with accuracy in passing situations. Tyler Russell returned from a 35 day absence to have a solid night throwing the ball but had a late fumble on an option.

Look for the Bulldogs to play both signal-callers again this week as they continue to battle for the starting nod.

Each bring a different element to the game and both will be needed in the second half of the season for Mississippi State to be successful.

When Bowling Green has the ball

The Bulldogs made eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage last week including three sacks but still surrendered six touchdowns on the ground to LSU. Look for MSU to shore up its run defense against Bowling Green and also fix the poor coverage against the pass.

The Falcons have had a balanced attack on offense, averaging 269.3 yards through the air and 211.5 yards rushing.

CRUCIAL MATCHUP

MSU’s offense vs. BGSU’s defense

The Bulldogs have only three seniors starting on their offense and have four freshmen in a regular rotation. In a stark contrast, Bowling Green’s defense returns nine starters – six of whom are seniors.

Every starter on the Falcons defense is an upperclassmen with at least four years of service in the program.

Logan Lowery