Welcome to Stark-Vegas

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- I chatted with Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom at dinner Thursday night and will have a sit-down with him on Friday, so check back for that. There's not a more candid coach in the league than Croom, who's never hesitant about saying what he feels. I'll also have stories up Friday on running back Anthony Dixon and senior defensive end Tim Bailey, who served in Iraq before coming to Mississippi State.

Talked with quarterback Wesley Carroll after practice Thursday, and it's obvious that this is Carroll's team much more so than it ever was a year ago after he was thrown into the fire as a true freshman. He said the biggest difference with the offense will be the Bulldogs' ability to spread the ball around. He said the receivers have taken it to another level.

One other item of note: Senior safety Derek Pegues said he let the team down and apologized to his teammates for violating Mississippi State's class attendance policy for athletes. Pegues will miss the opener against Louisiana Tech. "All I can do is make it up to them when I get back, and that's what I plan on doing," Pegues said. "Our goal is to win the SEC championship and go to a BCS game. We think we can compete with any team in the SEC this year."

Here's a look elsewhere around the conference:

* Given Bobby Petrino's offensive background, is it any surprise that Arkansas' offense is ahead of the defense at this point? The Hogs' offense again gets the best of the defense in a scrimmage.

* Sophomore Lawrence Marsh has been the most consistent defensive tackle for the Gators this preseason and is pushing to lock down a starting spot.

* Vanderbilt still doesn't have a starting quarterback, as Chris Nickson and Mackenzi Adams continue to battle for the job.

* Stewart Mandel of SI.com is putting together a neat project, a conference showdown of sorts, to raise money for DonorsChoose.org, which benefits public-school classrooms.

* Phillip Fulmer is pleased with the Vols' effort as two-a-days come to an end.

* The SEC agrees to a new 15-year television contract with CBS.

* Highly touted quarterbacks are lining up to play for Kentucky. Another one may be on the verge of committing to the Wildcats.