The South Carolina Gamecocks picked off three Bulldog passes and picked up a 34-16 win over Mississippi State Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., pushing their win streak against the Bulldogs to seven games.
The Bulldogs, who entered the game ranked second in the FBS with only six turnovers on the year, played out of character, turning the ball over five times against the Gamecocks. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen spoke on his team's then six turnovers on the season earlier in the week saying it was good, but he’d rather that number be zero. He did not get his wish Saturday as South Carolina scored 20 points off the five Bulldog turnovers to help secure the victory.
Even though Mississippi State gave up 34 points, the defense did not shoulder the blame for the loss. Dealing with short fields all game from the turnovers, the defense managed to hold South Carolina to 1 for 11 on third down conversions, finally yielding in the fourth quarter, and while the Bulldogs' secondary did give up a couple of big plays to Conner Shaw and the South Carolina offense, the defense held the Gamecocks to 307 yards, well below the South Carolina average of 475.1 yards per game this season.
Offensively, the Bulldogs managed to be consistently inconsistent. On their first drive of the game, the Bulldogs looked very strong and drove down the field with ease to take a 7-0 lead. After that, the Bulldogs had trouble getting the offense rolling. Dak Prescott threw three interceptions and had a fumble, and South Carolina made life tough on Prescott by getting in the backfield all game and landing multiple big hits on Prescott. The turnovers continually stymied any offensive progress.
Mississippi State did have success early when they went to the ground game. As the game wore on, Mullen abandon the running game for screens and and short passes. Prescott struggled handling the pressure and never got into much of a rhythm passing the football. Prescott finished the game with 235 yards passing and was the leading rusher with 15 carries for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jameon Lewis and Robert Johnson each finished the game with seven receptions and 45 and 53 yards receiving respectably.
On a positive note, Mississippi State may have found themselves a field goal kicker. Evan Sobiesk, a freshmen from Hattiesburg, MS, kicked the only extra point of the game, as well as the only field goal of the game. He connected on the 38 yard field goal in the second quarter. Devon Bell, who had handled the kicking duties, replaced Baker Swedenburg as the punter, and he finished with an average of 47.6 yards per punt.
Mississippi State (4-4, 1-3) will go on the road next week against Texas A&M at Kyle Field before returning home to face Alabama.