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Mississippi State 21 … at UAB 3
Posted Oct 8, 2011

Week 6 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Mississippi State at UAB

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 6 - Mississippi State at UAB

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Oct. 8 Mississippi State 21 … at UAB 3
CFN Analysis: Sluggish. That’s what Mississippi State has been after a disappointing star, and being down 3-0 at the end of the first half to a team as bad as UAB is a telling sign; it’s just not happening for the offense. Chris Relf couldn’t get the offense moving well enough, and the running game that’s supposed to be able to pound on anyone in the SEC couldn’t get rolling on one of the worst teams in Conference USA. Tyler Russell was terrific in relief completing 11-of-13 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns, while Vick Ballard did his part with 101 yards on 19 carries. Call this the letdown game after losing to Georgia Tech and with South Carolina up next, but the team needs to start showing off a little bit of offensive firepower very, very soon or it’ll be a tough second half of the year.

UAB did what it could without quarterback Bryan Ellis, but the offense just didn’t work well enough with Jonathan Perry at the helm. He ran well, and Pat Shed did what he could do with 73 yards on 16 carries, but the offense couldn’t do much consistently well to finish off drives. The defense did a great job in the first half against the tough Mississippi State running game, but the secondary that’s been such a disaster couldn’t come up with a key second half stop once MSU’s Tyler Russell came in. It was the team’s best defensive performance of the year, and it was a plus with the high-powered Tulsa offense up next.

(AP) BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Tyler Russell replaced an ineffective Chris Relf at quarterback and threw three touchdown passes to help Mississippi State beat Alabama-Birmingham 21-3 on Saturday.

Russell, who played in only two of the first five games this season, started the second half for the Bulldogs (3-3). On his second possession he led the Tigers on a seven-play, 89-yard touchdown drive, capped by an 18-yard pass to Marcus Green. Russell connected with Chad Bumphis for a 57-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter, and then later hit Malcolm Johnson with a 20-yard scoring pass. Russell completed 11-of-13 passes for 166 yards.

Relf had 46 yards passing in the first half. The Bulldogs' only scoring threat in the half ended when Relf was sacked for an 11-yard loss, and then Derek Depasquale missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt.

The only points UAB (0-5) was able to score was on a 37-yard field goal by Ty Long late in the first half. The Blazers had several scoring chances throughout the game, but quarterback Jonathan Perry missed at least five open receivers for big gains, and UAB committed two turnovers in Mississippi State territory in the second half.

Perry was 18-for-36 passing for 195 yards and an interception. Pat Shed gained 73 yards rushing and 32 yards receiving.

Vick Ballard rushed for 101 yards on 19 carries for the Bulldogs. Bumphis had four receptions for 66 yards.

Mississippi State (2-3) at UAB (0-4) Oct. 8, 12:00, FSN

Here’s The Deal … A trip to Birmingham’s Legion Field never looked as inviting as it does right now for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs, not long ago considered a riser out of the SEC West, have fallen on hard times with three conference losses in the last four games. Heck, even the one victory over Louisiana Tech required an overtime session and a whole lot of heavy lifting. Coach Dan Mullen’s team has this trip to Alabama to try fixing a few problems before league play resumes with a visit from South Carolina.

UAB has been a disappointment in its own right, starting winless with a veteran roster that was brimming with high hopes back in August. The program has been improving, though, losing the last two games to East Carolina and Troy by just six points combined. The Blazers don’t figure to be unnerved by a visit from an SEC member since they darn near knocked off Tennessee and Mississippi State last fall.

Why Mississippi State Might Win: The Bulldogs have sputtered badly on offense over the last three games, averaging only 14 points over that time. This is the week that they regain the potency they had in the first half of September. The backfield tandem of QB Chris Relf and RB Vick Ballard has been slumping, but has too much talent to continue down that path against this opponent. No team in America has fewer sacks than UAB, which is also allowing over five yards a carry. With all day to throw, Relf will finally do a better job of getting receivers Chad Bumphis and Arceto Clark into the flow of the game. And Ballard will find the wide running lanes he needs to recapture his early-season form.

Why UAB Might Win: Oddly enough, the Blazers attack has exhibited a faster pulse ever since starting QB Bryan Ellis was lost to a concussion two weeks ago. Although the sophomore has been erratic as a passer, he’s brought an element of quickness and athleticism to the pocket. Now that defenses have to respect the running ability of the quarterback, it’s helped open up the field for RB Pat Shed and receivers Jackie Williams, Patrick Hearn and Nick Adams. Led by next-level LT Matt McCants, the offensive line has protected the pocket better than any other unit in Conference USA.

What To Watch Out For: Mississippi State defensive coordinator Chris Wilson will want to fire up as much pressure as he can out of his kids this weekend. Perry can be exciting, but he can also be raw, the by-product of being an inexperienced and unproven as a passer. If the Bulldogs can flush the sophomore with some combination of DT Fletcher Cox and LB Cameron Lawrence, their reward will be errant throws and opportunities for picks. The D has not played poorly during the downturn, and is hoping to provide a spark again this weekend.

What Will Happen: Legion Field will provide the right venue for Mississippi State to get back on track for the first time in weeks. Not only will the Bulldogs hold a sizable advantage in personnel, but they’ll be adequately motivated to vent some pent-up frustration at the expense of the Blazers. Relf and Ballard will light the fuse on the offensive side of the ball, confusing the outmanned UAB defense with a mix of accurate throws and tough inside runs, respectively. The harder Perry tries to engineer a comeback, the more susceptible he’ll become to turning the ball over.

CFN Prediction: Mississippi State 38 … UAB 14
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Mississippi State -17   O/U: 53

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