No. 23 Mississippi St. prepares for S. Alabama

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) -- South Alabama has never played a Southeastern Conference opponent in football. It's only the fourth season the Jaguars football program has existed.

So they are pumped for their low-risk, high-reward game against No. 23 Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs will likely have a difficult time matching that enthusiasm when South Alabama visits Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday. Although Mississippi State is trying for its first 4-0 start since 1999.

South Alabama is a transitional Football Bowl Subdivision program that is a member of the Sun Belt Conference. The Jaguars aren't eligible for the conference championship or a bowl game. That opportunity comes next season.

As for this season, beating a ranked SEC team -- or even coming close -- would be a great way to get the upstart program instant respect.