Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen has seen the best the Arkansas Razorbacks had to offer the last three years.
Mullen's Bulldogs took a couple of beatings by the Hogs in Little Rock, 42-21 in 2009 and 44-17 last season, and lost a 38-31 double overtime decision at home in 2010.
As far as the problem MSU had with Arkansas last season, Razorback quarterback Tyler Wilson had much to do with it. He threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns.
"Last year, we played very poorly in the game," Mullen said on Wednesday's Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference. "Tyler Wilson had a career day against us. We lost in double overtime the year before against a good team. Since I've been here, they've been a pretty good team the last couple of seasons."
The Bulldogs and Hogs meet once again Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium as the Southeastern Conference Western Division series is renewed at 11:21 a.m.
Mullen said there's no reason to take Arkansas lightly just because of its 4-6 overall and 2-4 Southeastern Conference marks.
"They started the year as a top 10 team, so we know they have a lot of talent on their roster," Mullen said. "They've had some ups and downs, but we have to expect a top 10 team coming in to play us this week."
Tyler vs. Tyler,
Mississippi State junior quarterback Tyler Russell won his head-to-head matchup with Tyler Bray of Tennessee on Oct. 13.
Russell faces another Tyler Saturday in Wilson of the Razorbacks.
Wilson has put up huge numbers with 195 completions out of 320 attempts for 2,803 yards and 18 touchdowns.
"He's a great quarterback and they have solid receivers," Mullen said. "He's going to put the ball where it needs to be caught. He makes good decisions and gets the ball out of his hands. He's very accurate getting the ball to those receivers. Even though they've lost a lot of talent at receiver, he's still a great quarterback putting the ball exactly where it needs to be and giving their guys chances to make plays."
Russell has enjoyed a nice season also by completing 182-of-301 pass attempts for 2,249 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Mullen said Russell has come a long way with his game after redshirting as a freshman in 2009.
"You learn but you go through a little bit of knowing you've redshirted," Mullen said. "In 2010, he played and got a little taste of it. His sophomore year, he was on the field and he realized how unprepared he was and what the commitment needed to be. He understood that, really worked throughout the offseason to get himself prepared and ready to play every single week."
Mullen said Russell has shown a great deal of toughness with the way he stands in the pocket and knows just how long he has to throw the football.
"He just really understands, not just our offense, but what defenses are trying to do to stop him," Mullen said. "That allows him to make quicker decisions."
rotation for MSU
It appears that junior running back LaDarius Perkins will be well enough to be used at least on a limited basis for the Bulldogs today.
Mullen still counts on the other running backs to step onto the field when their number is called.
Nick Griffin, Josh Robinson and Derrick Milton have all made enough progress to be able to spell Perkins when he needs a breather and Mullen has no problem with that.
"A lot depends on Perkins' health because he's kind of our guy, but I think you look at Nick and how he's played," Mullen said. "There's more confidence with the coaching staff putting them in there. I don't know if we'll have a set plan to get them in there a lot more, but we are more confident getting them in the game."