It only took the first five games of the 2015 season to derail Mississippi State’s loftiest goals. Losses to LSU and Texas A&M have all but eliminated any chance the Bulldogs had to win the SEC West. As far as a national championship run, those have long since been dashed.
However, there’s still plenty for the Bulldogs to play for. A premier bowl destination could be in their future if they can close out the season strong.
Mississippi State beat Missouri 31-13 Thursday to improve their record to 7-2 and 3-2 in the SEC. The Tigers fell to 4-5 and 1-5 in the SEC.
Here are Mississippi State’s grades from yesterday’s contest:
Only a heavy downpour could slow the Bulldogs. Once the rain slowed in the second quarter, quarterback Dak Prescott took control. The senior completed 27-of-40 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns. Not bad considering Missouri had the No. 6 defense in the nation and the No. 2 unit in the SEC entering the game. Prescott also ran 14 times for 47 yards despite consistent pressure. State’s offensive line wasn’t great. They allowed three sacks and eight quarterback hurries, and Prescott had the ball knocked loose a couple of times. Pass protection is the only knock against the Bulldogs’ offense. Junior receiver Fred Ross caught 11 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Junior receiver De’Runnya Wilson caught four passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns, including a 63-yard reception.
State’s defense will be challenged more later this season. Missouri has one of the worst offenses in the nation, and is so bad offensively that it’s actually difficult to grade Mississippi State’s defensive performance. The Bulldogs gave up 16 first downs for 322 yards, including 215 rushing yards . State will have to improve later this season against better rushing teams on their schedule. Defensive back Kivon Coman and linebacker Gerri Green both had an interception against a struggling Tiger passing attack. State had five team sacks.
Special Teams: C-
The Bulldogs allowed a blocked punt in the first half. Then they had a highlight worthy downed punt in which three State players kept the ball out of the endzone by tipping it back to one another and downing it on the 1-yard-line. Kicker Westin Graves hit a field goal into the driving rain late in the second quarter. Brandon Holloway had three kick returns for 104 yards, including a 69-yarder.
Mississippi State’s coaches have pressed the right buttons to get their team to play at a high level after a disappointing start to the season. The Bulldogs have won four straight games and have a few extra days to prepare for Alabama next week. Credit State’s coaches for also being conservative early in the Missouri game in order to wait out the weather.
Thursday’s game was a tale of two teams handling adversity in different ways. Mississippi State has overcome significant losses from last season to salvage their season. Missouri ‘s seem listless.