Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Best/worst in 2012: Mississippi State
By Edward Aschoff
We continue our look at the best and worst moments for all 14 SEC teams by looking at Mississippi State:
The Bulldogs were looking for real respect during the first half of the season, and their 41-31 win over Tennessee made everyone look at Mississippi State in a different light. Through the first five games of the season, the Bulldogs skated through very winnable games, but still felt like outcasts nationally. But against a high-powered offense like Tennessee's, the Bulldogs showed that they could win a back-and-forth, chest match with some big plays of their own. Mississippi State racked up 450 yards of total offense and watched as starting quarterback Tyler Russell continued his run as one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the SEC with his 291 yards, two touchdowns and zero turnovers. Mississippi State held a 27-14 lead at halftime, but the Vols inched back with some big plays of their own, eventually cutting the lead to three late in the third. But the Bulldogs never wavered, as they outscored Tennessee 14-7 in the fourth quarter, including getting a 9-yard touchdown pass from Russell to wide receiver Malcolm Johnson with nine seconds left to seal the victory for the Bulldogs. The win made Mississippi State 6-0 to start the season.
The month of November was brutal for the Bulldogs. If the 38-7 blowout loss to Alabama to end October wasn't enough, Mississippi State ended the season winning just one of its last three games during the final month of the regular season. That group of losses included a 41-24 loss to Ole Miss, which was the first lost for the Bulldogs to the Rebels since 2008. After starting the season 7-0, the Bulldogs were outscored by a combined 93 points in their four losses. One thing that really stuck out during the Bulldogs' decent was the defense. After allowing an average of 327 yards through the first seven games, Mississippi State's defense surrendered 477 per game in the last five weeks. Mississippi State lost by an average of 23 points during its 1-4 finish and gift wrapped the Golden Egg in their loss to the Rebels to conclude the regular season.