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September 9, 2010

MSU plays host to Auburn

The Mississippi State Bulldogs play host to SEC foe Auburn Thursday at Davis Wade Stadium. This will be the Bulldogs and Tigers second game and first SEC game of the season.

The game is set to start at 6:30 p.m., and will be televised by ESPN.

"We're excited to get our SEC season underway," said MSU head coach Dan Mullen. "Conference play is what it's all about. It was a great win for us last week and a great way to start off the season. We created a great game day environment and it was really an exciting day on campus Saturday. I feel really excited about the plan that we have for playing on a short week. We put a lot of research into it with our coaches and our players to make sure we get ourselves ready. We feel like we have a great plan."

MSU is coming off an electrified high after gaining a win 49-7 on the reunion of past competitors Memphis. In the near record-breaking season-opener victory against the Tigers, the Bulldogs offense racked up 569 total yards, the fifth-highest record in Mississippi State's history. State's two quarterbacks, Chris Relf and Tyler Russell, combined to complete 20-of-25 passes for 372 yards, which tied for eighth most in a single game. Also, State's 49 points victory over Memphis were the most in a season-opener since 1974, the most points in any game since 2002 and the most against a Division I-A opponent since 2000.

MSU faces a tough SEC-opener. The Tigers lead the all-time series against State, 59-23-2. Thursday's game will mark the 56 consecutive years that the Auburn and Mississippi State have competed against each other. Auburn has won 21 of the last 28 games in the series.

"We have a tough opponent in Auburn," Mullen said. "They had a big win last week and I know a lot of people are picking them to be everybody's sleeper pick to win the SEC West. You can see why with a talented team. They have 15 seniors starting on offense and defense and when you have that type of experience it can go a long way for you. We'll have challenges and have our hands full. They have an explosive offense and a real solid defense."

In Relf's starting career showcase, he completed 7-of-9 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Relf, after having a pass intercepted, settled into his position and completed seven of eight and led State to three scoring drives.

Russell in first game completed 13-of-16 passes for 256 yards and tied a school record with four touchdowns. Russell guided to the Bulldog offense on a seven-play, 91-yard drive in his first series, as he completed all three passes for 51 yards, capping the scoring drive with a 20-yard strike to Brandon Heavens.

On the receiving side, Heavens helped the Bulldogs with five receptions for 112 yards and his first two career touchdowns. Chad Bumphis caught four career catches for 100 yards and also scored two touchdowns in the win over Memphis.
Following his stellar performance, Russell was named Southeastern Conference Freshman on the Week. Fellow Bulldogs Corey Broomfield and Johnthan Banks each earned the honor last season; the first year the SEC began honoring freshman with the weekly award.

Next weekend, State will travel to Baton Rouge to compete against the Tigers of LSU. The Saturday game is set to kickoff at 6 p.m.


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