After a 27-14 win over Kentucky on Saturday, the Mississippi State Bulldogs sit at 5-0 for only the fourth time in school history and the first time since 1999.
"They have won seven in a row (dating back to last season), they know how to win and they are playing with a lot of confidence," head coach Derek Dooley said.
Junior quarterback Tyler Russell has led the way for the Bulldog offensive attack so far this year, throwing for 1,091 yards and 10 touchdowns against just one interception. In two SEC games this year Russell has thrown for 491 yards and five touchdowns.
"I think he is playing pretty solid," Bulldog head coach Dan Mullen said. "He might not put up the massive numbers that other people put up, but I think the most important record he has gong for him right now is he is 5-0."
Also on the offensive side of the ball, running back LaDarius Perkins sprung to life against the Wildcats, amassing 110 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.
The Bulldogs will look to exploit the Volunteers' run defense and gash the Vols for big gains on the ground, as Florida and Georgia have done already this season. The Volunteers have given up seven running plays of 25 yards or more this season.
"The offense put the ball in the player's hand, like LaDarius Perkins and those backs, and their quarterback manages the game for them," said Waggner. "I'm really impressed. You can tell those guys have been in the system a long time."
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs have been very opportunistic when it comes to turnovers. Mississippi State has forced 15 fumbles and nine interceptions on the year. The Bulldogs boast a plus-11 turnover margin.
The Bulldog secondary is a group of upperclassmen who are anchored by corner back Johnthan Banks. Banks has 15 career interceptions, three of which have come this season.
The corner opposite Banks is Darius Slay. Slay has been a starter since he came to Mississippi State from Itawamba Community College in Fulton. The senior corner also has three picks on the year.
"Those are the guys that we rely upon, they are our strength of our team," said Mullen. "They bring a leadership and experience on the backend they are going to have to step up."
The duo of Banks and Slay will likely be matched up against the combination of Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.
"It's going to be a challenge for our guys," Mullen said. "I think they are the two best receivers we have played so far this year and on top (of) that the best passing quarterback we have seen this season. That combination is certainly going to be a challenge for us."