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October 22, 2010

MSU returns for homecoming

After back-to back-road wins, Mississippi State plays host at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field to the Blazers of UAB. The Bulldogs and the Blazers will kick off at 6 p.m. (CT) in a head-to-head competition televised by ESPNU.

With an upsetting win against No. 22 Florida at their homecoming last weekend, Mississippi State joined elite teams across the country in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' polls at No. 24 this week. It marks the first time since Sept. 21, 2001 that State is ranked in either poll.

State has amazed fans and put the city of Starkville on the map for football. The Bulldogs currently have won four consecutive games for the first time since starting off the 1999 season with eight straight victories. Dating back to last season's win at Middle Tennessee, the Bulldogs have also won four consecutive non-conference matches for the first time since an eight-game regular season steak from 1998-2000.

"The other day, Matt Balis reminded them of what got us here and there were some pretty interesting faces walking out of that weight room after he finished working them out," head coach Dan Mullen said. "I believe he got his point across and at practice I was really pleased with the focus. We're successful because we work hard and prepare and that is what makes you successful. Believe in the man next to you; believe he's going to do his job and you believe in the team and the program and our guys have bought into that. The recipe can't change in the future and that was our focus. I saw it in the smiling faces at practice and there's nothing wrong with being pretty happy after winning a big football game. I also saw the focus needed when it was time to get back to work."

Chad Bumphis is becoming Mullen's go-to guy for the season. The sophomore got his first snap of the season at quarterback in MSU's win over Alcorn State. The Tupelo, Miss., native rushed for 38 yards on four carries, including a 24-yard scamper on his first attempt. Bumphis also caught nine passes for 133 yards, both career highs. In game six victory over Houston, he led the team with seven catches for 79 yards.

"Chad has done a nice job for us," second-year offensive coordinator Les Koenning said. "There has been a couple of times that we went to him in crucial situation he picked up some third down situations converted for us, and we are really excited about what he is doing. He just needs to keep improving and keep getting better."

Vancleave, Miss. native Chris White had a game of the ages in State's 10-7 success against Florida. White ended the night posting 11 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks as the Bulldog defense held the Gators to its lowest point in five years. The Mississippi State defense allowed only 25 total yards in the first quarter and 17 rushing yards on 17 attempts in the first half.

"He brings a lot of leadership in how he plays and with his work ethic," Mullen said. "Chris isn't the most vocal player, but we are starting to see a very talented football player who is really growing into his position. He hasn't played linebacker since pee-wee football and it's a position he's grown into and I think you're seeing that comfort come up. He is a very talented player and when he sees things he can get to the ball very quickly, disrupt plays and playing middle linebacker for us he has to lead by example and have that leadership presence on the field even though he isn't the most vocal person."

MSU will return back to action next week in Starkville to compete against the Kentucky Wildcats.


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