Tulane will be kicking off it's first game under new head coach Bob Toledo, while State will be attempting to right it's course after dropping their season opener to LSU 45-0 last week on national television. That game was played in Starkville.
The Green Wave defeated Mississippi State last season in Starkville, 32-29. It was an embarrassing loss for the SEC-member Bulldogs.
The two teams first met in 1901, and State holds a 29-26-2 series advantage, while Tulane holds an advantage in games played in New Orleans 22-16-2. In the Bulldogs' loss to No.2-ranked LSU, the 'Dogs managed just 146 yards of total offense, while turning the ball over seven times.
Starting quarterback Michael Henig completed 11-of-28 passes for 120 yards and threw six interceptions in the LSU debacle. Most of Henig's interceptions were considered 'unforced'.
State did have some positives in the LSU game, beginning with the pass protection the offensive line provided against one of the nation's best and quickest defenses
And although the offensive highlights were few, Henig's 11 completions went to 11 different receivers and starting running back Anthony Dixon rushed for 29 yards.
Henig will start today but he's on a short lease and State coach Sylvester Croom plans to use Henig's backup, JUCO transfer Josh Riddell, who was suspended for most of August camp after being stopped for a DUI during preseason practice, in some situations against Tulane. Riddell, who is more mobile than Henig, was reinstated after the LSU game.
Croom has spent the team's practice time this week in making improvements in weaknesses exposed by the team's performance in the LSU game.
State fans should have been encouraged by the general performance of the State defense, which held up well considering the turnovers and level of competition.
In addition two Bulldog defenders, defensive end Titus Brown and linebacker Dominic Douglas, showed why they are among the SEC's top defenders. Douglas is a junior college transfer. Brown is considered better as a pass rusher than in defending the run, while Tulane will be led by running back Matt Forte, who rushed for 170 yards and a touchdown against Mississippi State in last year's game.
Douglas recorded nine tackles and a sack against the Tigers.
State will have motivation on it's side in two respects, trying to recover from the LSU debacle and salvaging their season; and revenge on Tulane both for the Green Wave's victory in Starkville last season and for the Wave's celebration after that game.
New Green Wave head coach Toledo will start junior quarterback Scott Elliot. Elliot will be making his fourth career start. Tulane changes this season from the spread shotgun to the more physical West Coast offense.
While the Green Wave offense will mostly saddle up Forte, there are other rodeos in the Green Wave repetoire. The receivers include Jeremy Williams, a 2006 Freshman All-American is the team's top returning wide receiver after catching 40 passes for 484 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
True freshman Andrew Nierman starts at right guard. Three starters - center Aryan Barto, left guard Michael Parenton, and left tackle Troy Kropog - return. Redshirt freshman Pete Hendrickson rounds out the starting lineup at right tackle.
The performance of Nierman and Hendrickson on the right side of the offensive lineup will largely determine the effectiveness of the Green Wave offense Saturday evening.
The starting defensive tackles: Antonio Harris and Avery Williams, provide a solid foundation for the defense. True freshman Justin Adams, also lines up at tackle despite weighing but 255-pounds. Senior tackle Frank Morton, artgubly the Wave's best lineman, is out with a high ankle sprain.
Sophomore Ross Thevenot adds the punting chores to his list of kicking jobs.
The Mississippi State game opens a four-game home stand for the Wave. Tulane will return to action in the Superdome next weekend when they play defending conference champion Houston Cougars. Kickoff for the Houston game is set for 6 p.m.