Saturday, October 29, 2011
Bulldogs get first conference win
By Edward Aschoff
Mississippi State finally jumped into the win column in conference play after a 28-16 victory at Kentucky on Saturday.
In danger of going winless in conference play with league games against Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss remaining, the Bulldogs desperately needed this one.
Mississippi State's offense reemerged with 398 total yards. Quarterbacks Tyler Russell and Chris Relf combined to throw for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Relf also had two rushing touchdowns.
Using both quarterbacks proved to be extremely beneficial for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs weren't great on offense, but they were much improved.
Defensively, Mississippi State didn't force any turnovers, but held Kentucky to 307 yards after the Wildcats had their best offensive game of the year last week against Jacksonville State. Kentucky also went through most of the game with freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith after starter Morgan Newton left the game early with a right ankle sprain. Smith finished the game completing 26 of his 33 passes for 174 yards.
Smith looked calm and collected for the most part, but couldn't get the Wildcats into the end zone. Kentucky settled for three field goals before Jonathan George scored on a 4-yard run early in the fourth.
The Wildcats had opportunities to put more points on the board, but going 9-for-19 on third down didn't help.
Mississippi State will have another week to sharpen up that offense when Tennessee-Martin visits Starkville next Saturday. After that, the Bulldogs host Alabama then travel to Arkansas. Mississippi State ends the season in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss at home.
This offense hasn't shown much consistency this season, but it will have to if the Bulldogs want to have any sort of chance against Alabama or Arkansas.