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Big runners meet at Davis Wade Stadium

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Oct. 10, 2003
STARKVILLE Expect the ball to be on the ground a lot when Mississippi State University (1-4, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) squares off against the University of Memphis (3-2, 0-2 Conference USA) Saturday.
The Bulldogs' two-headed rushing attack of Nick Turner and Jerious Norwood found its stride last week in MSU's 30-21 win over Vanderbilt.
Norwood led the team in rushing with 116 yards on 22 carries, and Turner, who left Tuesday's practice with a slight concussion but is expected to play Saturday, added 90 yards on 12 carries.
Memphis sophomore running back DeAngelo Williams enters the weekend game, which is MSU's homecoming, leading the C-USA in rushing with 113.8 yards per game.
The 174-pounder is ranked second nationally in all-purpose yards with 183.6 yards per game, and he has accounted for four of Memphis' eight rushing touchdowns.
Williams has rushed for 100 yards in four straight games, including a 107-yard performance last week in a 24-10 loss to the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
As intriguing as the match up between the running backs is in this weekend's contest, Joe Lee Dunn's return to Davis Wade Stadium has created a lot of buzz around Starkville.
Memphis head coach Tommy West attempted to deflect the question of Dunn's return to MSU like a running back stiff-arming a would-be tackler, but even the Tigers head coach admitted the game is a little more special for Dunn.
Dunn is in the first year of his second stint as Memphis' defensive coordinator. He served on Sherrill's staff in the same capacity at MSU for seven years, before being fired at the end of last season.
Dunn told the Commercial Appeal that he would leave his emotions in Memphis when the two squads meet at Davis Wade Stadium.
Dunn has made his mark on the Tigers defense since returning to the program. Memphis has improved to 50th nationally against the run, allowing 131.8 yards per game, this season, after being ranked 101st in rushing defense last season.
Memphis has also not allowed a running back to gain 100 yards this season.
The Bulldogs will be using a slightly modified offensive line to move the ball against the Tigers.
MSU freshman Donovan Davis will start in place of injured offensive lineman Otis Riddley, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Vanderbilt.
The Bulldogs are slated to kick off against the Tigers at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.