Leading up to this week’s showdown with UAB, Saturday Down South’s Ethan Levine breaks down the battle between the Bulldogs and the Blazers.

UAB Blazers
Week 2 at Mississippi State (2 p.m. ET; ESPN3/FSN)

THE SKINNY: The Blazers put a disappointing 2013 season behind them with a convincing 48-10 win over Troy in last week’s season opener. The game was decided by both team’s rushing attacks, as UAB ran for 338 yards while holding the Trojans to a mere 71 yards on the ground. The Blazers were 0-2 against SEC opponents in 2013, losing to then-No. 9 LSU 56-17 before dropping a 52-24 contest to Vanderbilt two weeks later.

KEY PLAYER: The player(s) to watch in this one are the Blazers’ two-headed tailback tandem of Jordan Howard and D.J. Vinson. The two backs combined to carry the ball 41 times last week, rushing for 285 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over Troy. Quarterback Cody Clements only attempted 19 passes in blowing out the Trojans, and UAB is likely to try and slow the pace of Saturday’s game against MSU while controlling time of possession in the process.

WHAT TO WATCH: Dak Prescott had a career day against Southern Miss in Week 1, setting personal bests for yards and touchdowns in a game while only playing a little more than a half of football. If Prescott truly wants to prove he’s a legitimate Heisman contender and MSU is a legitimate SEC West contender, he cannot experience a drop-off against the Bulldogs’ second straight Conference USA foe. Look for Prescott to pursue 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing against the Blazers.

FINAL SAY: Mississippi State is a four-touchdown favorite over UAB this week in Vegas, and for good reason. If the Bulldogs are truly capable of winning 10 games this season, this game should not make them sweat. Remove one 53-yard completion from Clements to UAB receiver Jamarcus Nelson last week, and the UAB passing game was just 12-of-18 for 99 yards against Troy. The Mississippi State defense is simply too deep, too experienced and too talented to allow a one-dimensional rushing offense to beat it. And when Prescott has the ball in his hands, there are few defenses anywhere in the country capable of slowing him down.