Well, it wasn’t the prettiest win ever, but Mississippi State was able to topple BYU 35-10 to improve to 4-2 on the season. The Bulldogs were able to outgain BYU 546 to 345 and totaled 37 first downs to the Cougar’s nine.
Mississippi State got on the board first with a fifteen yard touchdown run from quarterback Nick Fitzgerald with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Bulldogs would extend their lead to 14-0 on a nine yard touchdown pass from Fitzgerald to Donald Gray before BYU would get on the board with a field goal of their own late in the second quarter. The Bulldogs would get a chance to pad their lead before halftime though with three minutes remaining in the half where they would take advantage. With under thirty seconds remaining in the half, Nick Fitzgerald extended the Bulldog lead to 21-3 on a fourteen yards run.
Mississippi State would come out hot on their opening possession of the second half, as the Bulldogs marched down the field on a drive that was capped off with a 32 yard touchdown pass from Fitzgerald to Jamal Couch. Later in the third quarter with the Bulldogs threatening deep in BYU territory, Fitzgerald’s pass was picked off by a BYU defender and returned for 38 yards. The Cougars would take advantage after a pass interference call and a roughing the passer penalty with a 27 yard touchdown pass by Cougar quarterback Tanner Mangum. However, Mississippi State was able to respond with an interception from Brandon Bryant after the Bulldogs fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, and State never looked back. Aeris Williams would seal the deal for Mississippi State on a five yard touchdown run with 7:20 to go in the game to push the lead to 35-10.
Nick Fitzgerald would finish the day with 241 yards through the air on 19-30 attempts including two touchdowns and two picks. He also added 103 yards on the ground to go along with two scores. Aeris Williams also had a solid game, finishing the day with 114 yards on the ground with a touchdown, and would add 33 yards receiving. The biggest surprise for Mississippi State was seeing Jamal Couch step up and catch two passes for 43 yards and a touchdown, including his 32 yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.
The Bulldog secondary did however, continue to show glaring weaknesses on deep balls, particularly on a play in the second quarter, on a 3rd and short, quarterback Tanner Mangum rolled to his right, and fired a ball down the middle to his receiver for a 43 yard gain. The Bulldog secondary seemingly lost the receiver cutting across the middle on a play that left you scratching your head. Brandon Bryant had arguably the best game of the season, as he came up with a big stop early in the game, as well as showing much more effort than usual. Bryant also would add an interception to his name, as it was only the second for the Mississippi State Defense on the season, something that will need to improve if the Bulldogs are serious about getting to 8 or 9 wins.
While it may not have been the prettiest win I’ve ever seen, the Bulldogs were still able to dominate for the majority of the game for a 35-10 victory. There are still things that need to be addressed with our secondary and our receivers, but it is hard to complain too much after a 25 point win. Now it’s time for us to put this one behind us and get ready for Kentucky as the Cats come to Starkville next week after they did not play this weekend.