UMass (2-6) at No. 21 Mississippi State (6-2, CFP No. 16), Saturday, noon ET (SEC Network)

Line: Mississippi State by 28.

Series record: Mississippi State leads 1-0.

WHAT'S AT STAKE

Mississippi State is going for its fourth straight win, heading into a showdown with top-ranked Alabama on Nov. 11. UMass has had a tough season, but several of its losses have been close. The Minutemen have won two straight and would love to break through against a Southeastern Conference program.

KEY MATCHUP

Mississippi State's pass defense vs. the UMass passing offense: The Minutemen average nearly 300 yards per game through the air. QB Andrew Ford has thrown 13 touchdown passes and just three interceptions, but he took a hit that resulted in him being carted from the field last week. Ford's status will be a game-time decision. QB Ross Comis helped rally UMass to a victory against Appalachian State. Mississippi State's pass defense was excellent against Texas A&M last week, picking off three passes, including one that was returned 90 yards for a touchdown.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

UMass: DE Da'Sean Downey. The 230-pounder leads the team with 15½ tackles for a loss and five sacks this season.

Mississippi State: QB Nick Fitzgerald. The 6-foot-5 junior has thrown and run for at 100 yards in each of the Bulldogs' past three games.

FACTS & FIGURES

Mississippi State became bowl-eligible for an eighth straight season after its win over Texas A&M last week, which is a school record. Before coach Dan Mullen arrived on campus, the previous record was three straight seasons. ... Mississippi State beat UMass 47-35 at Gillette Stadium last season in the only other meeting between the schools. ... Mississippi State is averaging 260 yards rushing per game, which ranks third in the SEC and 13th nationally. ... UMass started the season 0-6, but has had back-to-back wins over Georgia Southern and Appalachian State. The Minutemen had 670 yards of total offense against Georgia Southern, which was a program record.

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