Scouting report: Mississippi State

QB Damian Williams, left, and LaDarius Perkins will test the Rebels' run defense. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

QB Damian Williams, left, and LaDarius Perkins will test the Rebels’ run defense. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

KEYS FOR VICTORY

1. Relf Coast offense?

If true freshman Damian Williams is forced to be the starting quarterback tonight Mississippi State might be better served to use more of its read-option offense. The Bulldogs had plenty of success against Ole Miss in previous Egg Bowls using that strategy with former quarterback Chris Relf.

Williams plays with a very similar style as Relf and is a bruising runner in the open field.

2. Create turnovers

MSU has created 10 turnovers in its last three games (six interceptions, four fumble recoveries). The more the Bulldogs can keep the Ole Miss up-tempo offense off the field the better. State has been vulnerable in the passing game at times this year and could play right into Bo Wallace’s plans if he is allowed to get into comfortable rhythm like in the second half of last year’s Egg Bowl.

3. Solid special teams

The Bulldogs have struggled in every phase of special teams all season. Field goals have been especially elusive, as MSUhas made just eight of its 18 tries. Last week against Arkansas, Devon Bell had a 28-yard field goal blocked and missed a potential game-winning 42-yarder at the end of regulation.

The Bulldogs need a consistent overall effort on special teams to keep that area from being a weakness once again.

Jameon Lewis returned a kickoff 100-yards for a touchdown in last year’s Egg Bowl.

WHAT TO WATCH

When MSU has the ball

Once again it will be game time until the Bulldogs starting quarterback is known. The one scenario that can be scratched from the list is leading passer and rusher Dak Prescott has been ruled out with a nerve injury to his left arm.

Williams has only appeared in four games this season and has not started. Tyler Russell re-aggravated his right shoulder injury late in last week’s game with Arkansas and remains questionable for the Egg Bowl.

Senior tailback LaDarius Perkins has totaled 390 yards and four touchdowns against Ole Miss in his career but was forced to leave last week’s game with a rib injury in the second quarter. Perkins is expected to play tonight.

When Ole Miss has the ball

Last year the Rebels totaled 527 yards of offense in the Egg Bowl, including 294 through the air. Wide receiver Donte Moncrief had a field day against State’s secondary hauling in seven passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns.

CRUCIAL MATCHUP

MSU’s secondary vs. Ole Miss’ receiving corps

The Bulldogs’ young secondary will be tested often by Wallace, who has added even more weapons offensively this season. The Rebels have three receivers with 40 or more catches that have combined for1,833 yards and 13 touchdowns.

MSU will have to create some turnovers as it has the past three games to hold the Ole Miss passing attack in check.

Logan Lowery