The Memphis Tigers kick-off the 2011 season with a home game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Thursday night.
After a six-year hiatus, Memphis and Mississippi State rekindled their once-annual rivalry in 2010, with the Bulldogs blowing out the Tigers 49-7 in Starkville. Mississippi State leads the all-time series 32-11 and have won 16 of the previous games in Memphis.
Mississippi State is coming just their fifth nine-win season in school history. Head coach Dan Mullen (14-11 in two seasons) has his starting quarterback Chris Relf, top running back Vick Ballard, and top three wide receivers -- Chad Bumphis, Arceto Clark and Chris Smith -- back for the 2011 season. While the defense lost leading tacklers Chris White and K.J. Wright to the NFL, defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd anchor a defense that has play-makers Johnathan Banks and Corey Broomfield patrolling the secondary.
Memphis head coach Larry Porter is coming off a rough inaugural season, with the Tigers recording just one win, over Middle Tennessee State, in 2010. JUCO transfer Andy Summerlin, a 6-foot-5, 23-year-old sophomore, is expected to start under center, but the offense is expected to flow through sophomore tailback Jerrell Rhodes, who finished second on the team with 469 yards and one touchdown as a freshman. Senior defensive tackle Frank Trotter (80 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss in 2010) is the player to watch on the Tigers' defense.
Game date, time: 8 pm ET, Thursday, Sept. 1
Location: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
TV channel: Fox Sports Network (FSN)
Spread: Mississippi State by 29
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