Mississippi State wins the coin toss and decides to kick off first to begin the game.
The Vols return the opening kick off to the 29 yard line. Tyler Bray makes a quick throw and finds Justin Hunter for an immediate first down. Bray drops back for another pass on the next play and this time it's tight end Mychal Rivera's turn to catch a pass for another first down. Vols are now at the MSU 37. Tyler Bray drops back and goes to the air once again...this time the pass is batted away and falls incomplete. Bray looks to the tight end Rivera again on second down and Rivera catches the ball, just managing to stay in bounds for the completion. Vols now in the red zone. Bray struggling to find an open receiver on the next play and eventually lobs the ball to Vincent Dallas for a one yard gain. On 2nd and 9 Bray hands the ball off to running back Marlin Lane for his first carry of the game. The back picks up seven more yards on the run up the middle. With only two yards to go, Bray again toss the ball to the running back...this time MSU is ready for it and brings him down for a one yard loss on the play. Vols settle for a field goal and go on top 3-0.
Jameon Lewis returns the kickoff to the 26 yard line to begin MSU's first drive. Tyler Russell hands the ball to Perkins on first down for a four yard gain. Russell hands it to Perkins two more times but the back comes up short of a first down. MSU goes 3 and out and punts the ball away.
Two handoffs to Lane earns the Vols a first down to start their next drive. With the fresh set of downs Bray continues with whats working and gives the ball to Lane...the back picks up about four yards. Bray decides to break the running trend and try the air again, he finds Justin King open near the sideline. King picks up a first down. Bray decides to run it himself on first down...theres a hole in the middle and somehow Bray breaks free and takes it to the house. Vols now on top 10-0.
Johnthan Banks returns the kick off to the 28 yard line. Russell finds Chad Bumphis wide open on first down...Bumphis makes the catch for an easy first down. Russell looks to the air again but the receiver isn't where he is supposed to be...the ball hits the turf. On second down Russell drops back to pass again...he's looking...and he's looking some more...can't find anyone open and has to throw it away to avoid a sack. It's now 3rd and 10. Russell takes the snap and drops back for another pass...he's getting great protection from the O-line...he's looking...finally finds a receiver near the side line....he fires and hits Brandon Holloway for a first down! Bulldogs now at the Vol's 34 yard line. It's first down and Russell throws a quick pass to Jameon Lewis...Lewis picks up the first down but there's a flag on the play. The ref's call is offsides on Tennessee. After the penalty its now first and five for the Bulldogs. MSU at the Vol 29 now. Russell drops back to pass and launches a missile at Chris Smith. Smith makes the catch and earns the Bulldogs a fresh set of downs. MSU now at the Vol 16 yard line. Russell drops back to pass...fires toward the end zone...and the pass is intercepted by junior DB Brent Brewer! Have no idea what was up with that pass...there wasn't any maroon jerseys anywhere in the vicinity. Nevertheless, it's now Tennessee's ball at their own 16.
Bray drops back to pass and hits Justin Hunter for a first down. Vols at their own 35 yard line. First quarter ends.
Vols on top 10-0
Tyler Bray hits the tight end again for another first down. Rivera brought down at the Vol's 47 yard line. Bray hits freshmen receiver Cody Blanc for a seven yard gain...Blanc was hit hard on the tackle. It's now 2nd and 3...ball at the 49 yard line. Bray fakes a running play and then fires a pass to fullback Ben Bartholomew. Bartholomew has room to run along the side line and picks up a first down. Vols now in MSU territory. Bray goes to the air on first down and the pass is intercepted by Ferlando Bohanna! Bohanna tackled at the MSU 41.
It's an option play on first down...Russell pitches to Perkins...and out of no where a Vol comes charging between them...he intercepts the ball! Looks like it's Eric Gordon...and Gordon takes it to the house. Vols now extend lead to 17-0.
Tennessee's kick off is returned to the 24 yard line. Didn't catch who returned it but now Arceto Clark appears to be injured on the play. Russell trots back onto the field and appears to go to the exact same play that resulted in a turnover during their last drive. This time, however, the play works...Perkins catches the ball for a five yard gain. On second down Russell attempts to get a pass off but is sacked hard before he can. It's now 3rd and 13. Russell drops back...has good protection again...he finds Brandon Heavens near the side line. Heaven's makes the catch, but stumbles out of bounds--two yards short! It's 4th and 2...Bulldogs punt.
Good coverage on the punt...Vols only get a yard and take over at their own 32. Bray goes to the air on first down and is ALMOST intercepted by a flying Jamerson Love. Love can't come down with it though and it's 2nd down for Tennessee. Bray fires a pass again and AGAIN is ALMOST picked off. This time Jonathon Banks missed the opportunity. It's now 3rd and 10. Bray throws another pass down the field and--I'm not making this up--throws another sure interception, but this time the Bulldogs hang on to it! It's Jonathon Bank's--apparently making up for his last drop--that makes the INT. Bulldogs ball at the Vols 38 yard line. Three minutes left in the half.
Russell takes the snap and almost throws an INT of his own...fortunately the ball falls innocently to the turf. He finds Perkins open on 2nd down and the running back picks up enough for a first down. Bulldogs at the Vol 26 yard line. Another pass on first down is caught by Ricco Sanders for a gain of three yards. Russell can't find anyone open on second down and is unfortunately sacked for a four yard loss. Russell throws another pass to the middle of the field and a leaping Vol nearly picked it off. Bulldogs are forced to settle for a field goal. Devon Bell's kick is good and finally the Bulldogs are on the board.
Vols still lead it 17-3
With about two minutes remaining in the half, Tennessee starts their next drive at their own 23 yard line. Bray hands the ball to his running back and the play picks up 9 yards. Bray makes a quick pass for another a five yard gain and a first down. On first down the quarterback can't find anyone open and is forced to throw the ball away. It's 2nd and 10. Bray finds a receiver all alone on the left side of the field...he completes the pass and is brought down for a first down--but now there is a flag on the play. It's Illegal Touching against Tennessee! Now it's 3rd and 15 for the Vols. Bray is almost picked off again. Tennessee forced to punt the ball away. Looks like MSU has about a minute and twenty seconds to try and pick up some more points. They have all of their time outs and will begin the next drive at their own 36. Russell hands the ball off to Perkins...Perkins tackled at the 39. After a Bulldog timeout, Russell goes to the air and hits Chris Smith near midfield for a first down. Russell throws a quick pass to Perkins for a five yard gain...MSU uses their second time out. Russell can't find anyone open on second down and has to run it himself...he gets some good blocks and picks up a first down and a little more. Russell finally tackled at the Vols 33 yard line with around 54 seconds left on the clock. Russell works the sideline with a pass to a wide open Ricco Sanders. Sanders picks up the first and wisely runs out of bounds to conserve time. Bulldogs now at the Vols 19 yard line...one time out remaining. Russell is sacked on the next play...Bulldogs reset and run the play without calling their final timeout. Russell can't find anyone to throw to and is forced to throw the ball out of bounds. The clock stops with 30 seconds left. It's now 3rd and 12 for the Bulldogs and they still have one timeout. For reasons beyond me, Dak Prescott is suddenly in the game. Dak drops back to pass and never had a chance...he's sacked immediately and loses a ton of yards. Bulldogs are forced to use their final timeout and try for a field goal. Bell lines it up and tacks on three more points.
Vols lead 17-6
Bulldogs get the ball first to start the second half. After the touchback, MSU begins their drive at the 25. Russell runs it himself on first down and loses a yard. He hands it to Perkins on second down and the back picks up the yard Russell previously lost. It's now 3rd and 10. Russell fires to the sideline near midfield and hits tight end Brandon Hill for a first down. MSU now at their own 43. A hand off to Perkins picks up 8 yards on the fresh set of downs...Russell runs it himself on the next play and gets another first down...he's finally brought down at the Vols 37 yard line! MSU really playing a fast pace right now. Russell drops back to pass...two Vols are coming at him...they hit him as he throws but the pass is compete to Brandon Holloway for a gain of eight yards. Russell gets up and plows ahead...on the next play he finds Hill again and a beautifully thrown ball picks up another first down! Bulldogs now at the Tennessee 26 yard line. Russell fires the ball to the fullback but the pass is dropped. A pitch to Perkins on 2nd down results in a one yard loss. Obvious passing situation on 3rd and 11. Russell drops back to pass...I can't say enough about the protection he's getting in this game...he looks and looks until he finds Brandon Heavens open. Heavens catches the pass and with Vols hanging off his back...he trudges forward before finally being brought down at the goal line mere inches away from being a touchdown. Russell takes the snap on first down and drops back to pass...this time he has almost no time to throw. As a trio of white jersey's rain down on him, Russell manages to get the ball free and into the hands of Brandon Holloway. Holloway takes it in for the score!
Bulldogs still behind but closing up the gap. Vols lead it 17-13.
Tyler Bray and the Vols take over at their own 20. Bray drops back to pass...he fires...and hits a WIDE OPEN receiver down field. No one is there to get him...he runs it in and just like that the Vols score a TD.
Vols now extend their lead 24-13
Jonathon Banks in to return the kickoff...he gets to the 30 before being tackled. Russell pitches the ball to Ricco Sanders and the play earns a nine yard gain. Russell drops back to pass on 2nd and 1. He hits Chad Bumphis near the sideline...Bumphis has room to run! Bumphis chugs along across midfield...to the 40...the 30...the 20...finally brought down at the Vols 16 yard line! On first down Russell fires a pass to a wide open Chad Bumphis again...unfortunately the throw is bad...it sails out of bounds and incomplete. 2nd and 10. Russell takes the snap and hands the ball off to Perkins...the back gets 3. Chad Bumphis gets open again on 3rd down and again his throw is awful...pass incomplete, it's 4th and 7. Bell is brought in for another field goal attempt. He stays perfect and adds 3 more points. Bulldogs still trail...its 24-16.
Tyler Bray hands it off for a 3 yard gain on the play. It's 2nd and 7. Bray throws another pass that damn well should've been picked off...this time its Ferlando Bohanna with the dropped INT. Another pass from Bray on 3rd down...this one is complete for a 32 yard gain caught. Vols now at the MSU 40. Vols keep it on the ground for the next play and their running back earns 9. Another run...another first down...Vols at the MSU 28. Another two runs and now its 3rd and one for the Vols. MSU just can't seem to stop the run as Tennessee gets just enough for another first down. End of 3rd quarter and Vols still lead 24-16.
Bray throws a pass on the fresh set of downs and the completion gets another first down. It's now first and goal. Two stopped runs have the Vols in a 3rd and goal situation from the two yard line. The crowd is roaring. The ball is given to full back Ben Bartholomew and he rumbles forward for the TD. Vols now lead 31-16.
Bulldogs begin their next drive at their own 30 yard line. A run by Perkins on first down gets 4 yards. A pass to Holloway earns a first down and MSU is at their own 46. Russell goes for a homerun on the fresh set of downs...the ball is thrown perfectly but unfortunately dropped by Ricco Sanders! Russell drops back to pass again but this time he's pressured...he's hit as he throws and although the ball is caught...it is a loss of yards. It's now 3rd and 13. Russell throws a long ball down the field again...he's off target. Bulldogs have to punt again.
Vols begin their next drive around their 14 yard line. Their back picks up 5 on first down. Vols running every play now to melt clock...Bulldogs are forced to burn all three of their time outs. Vols are finally forced to punt from their 44 with one minute and twenty five seconds remaining.
Banks goes no where on the return. MSU starts the drive at their 15. A pass picks up a 9 yard gain on first down...Russell spikes the ball to conserve time. It's 3rd and 1. Russell throws way down field and is nearly picked off. One minute remaining...4th and 1. Perkins runs it for a first down and Russell quickly spikes it again. 52 seconds remaining. Bulldogs at their own 33. A pass to Ricco Sanders is caught--then dropped for an incompletion. On third down Russell throw is caught but one yard short of a first down. It's now 4th and 1. Russell throws a pass and it's caught by Holloway for a first down. Holloway gets out of bounds to stop the clock. Only 30 seconds remaining now. For some stupid reason, Russell hands it off to Perkins. Perkins picks up five and Russell spikes it on 2nd down. Another throw on 3rd down picks up the first and again Russell spikes the ball. Only 12 seconds left now. Pressure on the quarterback forces a bad pass and an incompletion. With only a few seconds left, Russell goes to the end zone...incomplete again. Only 2 seconds left and its 4th and 1. There won't be a win, but can the Bulldog tack on one more TD? The answer is hell no...Russell throws an INT to end the game.
Sorry folks, not the ending I was hoping for either!
Tennessee Defeats State 31-16
Tennessee had 373 yards of total offense. 237 through the air and 136 on the ground.
Mississippi State had 303 yards of total offense. 210 through the air and 93 on the ground.
State had 3 turnovers while Tennessee had 2.
State had more first downs and more third down conversions than Tennessee.
Time of possession was nearly equal but State had the ball for a slightly longer length of time.